Campgrounds Must Meet Pool/Spa Regs
Got a swimming pool or spa at your campground? If so, the deadline is quickly approaching for compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, a new law which takes effect Dec. 19 and requires safety improvements at every public pool and spa in the U.S.
Named for Virginia Graeme who in 2002 at the age of 7 died in a spa after the powerful suction of a drain entrapped her under water, the new law is the result of three years of work by Safe Kids USA, the Baker family, congressional leaders and dozens of other stakeholders on the premise that drowning remains the second leading killer of children under the age of 14. In 2007, there were some 200 drownings in swimming pools in the U.S.
The new law promotes the safe use of pools, spas and hot tubs by imposing mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance and by establishing a voluntary grant program for states with laws that meet certain minimum requirements as outlined in the act. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will administer the law.
70% of Pool Operators Lack Legal Knowledge
With the Dec. 19 deadline fast approaching, “it’s shocking how few professionals understand it,” says Gary Thill, editor of Aquatics International, writing in his Aug. 7 blog. “Failure to comply with the act could result in fines up to $1.8 million or jail time. And yet, more than 70% of aquatics professionals either aren’t ready to comply or don’t even know what the act is, according to our online poll over that past month.”
John Ellison, vice president of operations for Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, has lobbied heavily with LSI’s franchisees – virtually all of whom operate pools at their parks – to bring their facilities up to the new standard. No existing pools or spas will be “grandfathered,” meaning all will have to comply or they will not be issued a permit to operate, he said.
“This is going to be quite a challenge as manufactures and suppliers are saying they may not be able to provide the necessary materials for contractors and operators to meet this deadline,” said Ellison, writing in LSI’s Jellystone Journal. “It is my understanding they are still working out how the enforcement of this law will be handled, but one thing is for sure… this is not going away.
“If your facility is an older pool with a single main drain and you have deep water (over 5 feet), then now is the time to plan for renovation, and I would encourage you to do away with the deep water, add the dual drains which can handle full flow and go to three feet to five feet to gain the classification of shallow water.
“Also, it will help your filtration of your water as you will be filtering less water, which means it will be filtered more quickly – increasing your turnover rate and improving your water clarity.”
The other item that will be strictly looked at will be flow meters, and they must be installed properly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, Ellison said. Again, it is recommended that a contractor install these or at least someone verifies the correctness of its operation and installation, he said.
Regular inspection, testing and verification that all systems are operating properly are very important. As important is the documentation of the previous and organized records of such.
Oct. 22 Webcast Open to All Pool and Spa Operators
For those needing more information, Aquatics International is hosting a free webcast starting at 2 p.m. EST on Oct. 22. The webcast will feature experts from the CPSC and the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) as well as other industry pros in roundtable discussion followed by questions and answers from registered participants.
To register for the hour-long session, go to www.aquaticsintl.com.
Pools not operating on the deadline date, such as those at campgrounds that close for winter, need not comply until they reopen.
Aquatics International also is offering an online compliance toolbox full of information, links and resources to help pool and spa owners understand and comply with the act.