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    The Public Swimming Pools and Spa Program is within the Division for Regulatory Services.

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    External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may not be accessible to people with disabilities.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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For Public Swimming Pools and Spas

*The definition of a public swimming pool or spa can be found at in the Texas Standards for Public Swimming Pools and Spas, under 25TAC §265.182(99).


Public Swimming Pools and Spas

General Questions

  1. What is the definition of the deep area of a swimming pool?
  2. When does a swimming pool need to have a 4 x 4 line on the bottom of the pool floor?
  3. Where should the 4 x 4 line be located?
  4. Are some pools not required to have the line?
  5. Where does the emergency phone have to be located?
  6. What signs are needed for a public swimming or wade pool?
  7. What signs are needed for a public spa?
  8. When are lifeguards required?
  9. How does a swim diaper protect other swimmers?
  10. What needs to be done if “poop” or diarrhea is found in a public swimming pool or spa?
  11. Do depth markers in pre-10/01/99 public pools and spas have to be changed to meet post-10/01/99 depth marker requirements?
  12. What chemicals can be used to sanitize a swimming pool or spa?
  13. Is a salt swimming pool or spa chlorine free?
  14. Is there an inclement weather rule in the Standards for Public Swimming Pools and Spas?

Virginia Graeme Baker Act / Entrapment Protection

  1. What is the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA)?
  2. What types of pools and spas must comply with VGBA?
  3. What is a SVRS?
  4. Does a pool with a single main drain that is connected to a skimmer(s) need a SVRD?
  5. Do pre-10/01/99 swimming pools and spas with single suction outlets have to replace them with dual outlets?
  6. What is a VGBA approved suction outlet?
  7. Does VGBA just require changing the suction outlet cover(s)?
  8. What should I do to document VGBA compliant outlets in my public pool or spa?
  9. What is the recall of some suction outlet covers and which ones were recalled?
  10. Where can I get more information about the Virginia Graeme Baker Act?

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  1. What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
  2. How does ADA impact public swimming pools, wading pools, water play components, and spas?
  3. What public pools and spas must comply with ADA?
  4. Will the Department of State Health Services enforce the ADA requirements?
  5. Where can I get more information about compliance with ADA?

Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS)

  1. What are the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS)?
  2. How does TAS impact public swimming pools, wading pools, water play components and spas?
  3. What public pools and spas must comply with TAS?
  4. Is the Department of State Health Services enforcing TAS?
  5. Where can I get more information about compliance with TAS?

 


  1. What is the definition of the deep area of a swimming pool?

    The deep area of a swimming pool is where the normal water level is greater than 5 feet [25 TAC §265.182(44)].

  1. When does a swimming pool need to have a 4 x 4 line on the bottom of the pool floor?

    A post-10/01/99 and pre-10/01/99 Class A, Class B, and Class C pool must have a 4 x 4 line on the bottom of the pool floor whenever the depth exceeds 5 feet [25 TAC §265.199(b)(1)(A)].

  1. Where should the 4 x 4 line be located?

    The 4 x 4 line should be at or just above the point of transition from the shallow area to the deep end [25 TAC §265.199(2)].

  1. Are some pools not required to have the line?

    There may be structural elements in a pool, such as a vinyl liner, that would prevent installation of a tile line or a painted line. There may be other considerations that must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If for any reason a line it is believed that a line cannot be installed the appropriate regulatory authority should be contacted.

  1. Where does the emergency phone have to be located?

    The emergency phone, or other electronic means of summoning emergency service must be readily accessible and within 200 ft. from the pool or spa water. For Class A and Class B facilities the emergency phone can be located either inside or outside the pool/spa yard. For Class C facilities the emergency phone is required to be outside of the pool yard, however, as a result of stakeholder input and concerns about the placement of the phone in an unsecured area that has changed. Class C facilities may place the phone either inside or outside the pool/spa yard. The document found at the following link, http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/poolspa/regclar.shtm, provides additional information.
  2. What signs are needed for a public swimming or wade pool?

    a)    
    At pools where no lifeguard is provided the sign stating “NO DIVING” in letters at least 4 inches high and a 4 inch international warning symbol for no diving shall be posted [25 TAC §265.199(f)(1)(B)].
    b)     At pools where no lifeguard service is required, a warning sign shall be placed in plain view and shall state “WARNING-NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY” with clearly legible letters at least 4 inches high [25 TAC §265.199(f)(1)(C)].
    c)     
    At pools where no lifeguard service is required a sign with letters at least 2 inches high stating “CHILDREN SHOULD NOT USE POOL WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION” shall be posted [25 TAC §265.199(f)(1)(C)].
    d)     
    If a required telephone is not readily visible from a post-10/01/99 or pre-10/01/99 pool or spa, directions shall be posted regarding its location [25 TAC §265.199(f)(1)(D)].
    e)     
    Regardless of where the telephone is located or whether the gate(s) or door(s) are locked, a sign must be installed inside the pool yard or spa yard in plain view of the pool or spa and state in letters at least 1 inch high: “In case of emergency, call 911.”  If the telephone is not readily visible from the pool or spa, the sign inside the pool yard or spa yard shall include a concise description of the location of the telephone [25 TAC §265.199(j)(5)].
    f)     
    In areas of Texas where a majority of citizens are non-English speaking, in addition to signs in English, signs, and other written warnings required by these standards, may be posted in the predominant language [25 TAC §265.199(f)(2)].
    g)     
    If the pool was constructed on or after 10/1/99 the maximum load limit must be posted [25 TAC §265.203(i)].

  1. What signs are needed for a public spa?

a)    The location of the nearest telephone or emergency-summoning device [25 TAC §265.205(f)(7)(A)].
b)    “DO NOT USE THE SPA, IF THE WATER TEMPERATURE IS ABOVE 104 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT (40 DEGREES CENTIGRADE)” in letters at least 1 inch high [25 TAC §265.205(f)(7)(B)].
c)    
At facilities where no lifeguard service is required, a warning sign shall be placed in plain view and shall state “WARNING-NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY” with clearly legible letters at least 4 inches high [25 TAC §265.205(f)(7)(C)].
d)    
At spas where no lifeguard service is required a sign with letters at least 2 inches high stating “CHILDREN SHOULD NOT USE SPA WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION” shall be posted [25 TAC §265.205(f)(7)(D)].
e)    
The maximum load limit of the spa [25 TAC §265.205(f)(7)(E)].
f)    
Regardless of where the telephone is located or whether the gate(s) or door(s) are locked, a sign must be installed inside the pool yard or spa yard in plain view of the pool or spa and state in letters at least 1 inch high: “In case of emergency, call 911.”  If the telephone is not readily visible from the pool or spa, the sign inside the pool yard or spa yard shall include a concise description of the location of the telephone [25 TAC §265.199(j)(5)].
g)    
In areas of Texas where a majority of citizens are non-English speaking, in addition to signs in English, signs, and other written warnings required by these standards, may be posted in the predominant language [25 TAC §265.199(f)(2)].

    8.    When are lifeguards required?

A lifeguard and second responder are required to be provided at Class A pools during competitive events and at all Class B pools. A lifeguard and second responder are required at Class C pools that have diving board or a slide that is not locked or chained to prevent use [25 TAC §265.199(g)(9)].

  1. How does a swim diaper protect other swimmers?

According to the CDC are not a substitute for frequent diaper changing and bathroom breaks. Even though swim diapers may hold in solid feces they are not leak proof. For more information about swim diapers please go to the CDC’s Healthy Swimming website at:  http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/swim-diapers-swim-pants.html.

  1. What needs to be done if “poop” or diarrhea is found in a public swimming or wading pool, or spa?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a website dedicated to recreational waters. This website has easy to follow instructions for treating the water, the deck and other areas of a public pool or spa following a fecal accident. The CDC has also provided instructions for treating a pool or spa for the parasite Cryptosporidium. The website is:  http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/disinfection-remediation-pools-hot-tubs.html and http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/toolkits/index.html.  

  1. Do depth markers in pre-10/01/99 public pools and spas have to be changed to meet post-10/01/99 depth marker requirements?

Depth markers on the deck or vertical wall of a pool or spa that was constructed before October 1, 1999 do not have to be replaced unless the depth markers are faded, damaged or illegible and cannot be read. Pools and spas that are being re-plastered or are having the tile line on the vertical wall of the pool or spa replaced should install depth markers that meet the post-10/01/99 depth marker requirements and should install toe tile on the leading edge of steps, underwater benches, areas of the pool that are 3 ft. in depth or less, zero depth entries, offset ledges and water lounges.

  1. What chemicals can be used to sanitize a pool?

The State of Texas requires public pools and spas to use either chlorine or bromine as the primary sanitization agent. Other methods, such as copper/silver and copper ion systems, can be used. However these must be used in addition to either 1.0 ppm of free available chlorine or 2.5 ppm of bromine and are considered to be secondary methods of water sanitization.

  1. Is a salt pool/spa a chlorine free pool/spa?

Salt is a compound that contains sodium and chloride. The salt is dissolved in the water and then is treated to allow the chloride from the salt to form chlorine. A pool or spa that uses salt to sanitize the water is using chlorine.

  1. Is there an inclement weather rule in the Standards for Public Swimming Pools and Spas?

The current Standards for Public Swimming Pools and Spas do not contain a inclement weather response rule. If the facility provides lifeguards there should be an emergency response plan which would include inclement weather response procedures. Those emergency procedures would be implemented by the lifeguard staff. Information concerning recommended responses to inclement weather, in particular to the risk of lightning, can be found at:  http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/ and http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/sports.htm.

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Virginia Graeme Baker Act / Entrapment Protection

  1. What is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA)?

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) is a Federal Law is intended to protect pool and spa users from the five forms of entrapment: limb entrapment, body entrapment, hair entanglement, physical entrapment and evisceration. VGBA was passed in 2009.
The law has 2 major components, the first being a requirement for all public pools and spas to be equipped with entrapment prevention devices or to be constructed with built in features that protect against entrapment. This includes installation of an approved suction outlet which meets the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 2007 or subsequent standard. The second component has to do with providing grants to States that have laws in place for both public and private pools and spas that require protection against entrapment.

  1. What types of pools and spas must comply with VGBA?

All public pools and spas must comply with VGBA. A public pool or spa is defined as one that is open to the public generally, whether for a fee or free of charge; one open to members of an organization and their guests; one at a multi-unit apartment building, apartment complex, residential real estate development, or other multi-family residential area; or one at a hotel or other public accommodations facility; or one operated by the Federal Government or by a concessionaire on behalf of the Federal Government for the benefit of members of the Armed Forces and their dependents or employees of any department or agency or their dependents.

  1. What is a SVRS?

A SVRS is a Suction Vacuum Release System which can either be a SVRD, suction vacuum release device, or an AVS, automatic vent system. A SVRS is capable of providing vacuum release at a suction outlet caused by a high vacuum due to a blockage of a suction outlet.  

  1. Does a pool with a single main drain that is connected to a skimmer(s) need a SVRS?

In Texas, any public pool or spa with a single suction outlet must have either an AVS or a SVRD and that suction outlet must be VGBA compliant.

  1. Do pools and spas constructed before October 1, 1999 have to replace single suction outlets with dual balanced outlets?

No, public pools and spas with single suction outlets that were constructed before October 1, 1999 do not have to replace them with dual balanced outlets. They must be VGBA compliant suction outlets and all single suction outlets must be equipped with a SVRD or AVS.

  1. What is a VGBA approved suction outlet?

A VGBA approved suction outlet is one that meets the requirements of the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 - 2007 or successor standard. ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 - 2007, or successor standard establishes materials, testing and marking requirements for totally submerged suction outlets and fittings in swimming pools, wading pools, spas, hot tubs and other aquatic facilities.         

  1. Does VGBA just require changing the suction outlet covers?

No, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC clarified its interpretation of suction outlet to include the sump and/or body, cover/grate, and hardware. This is the definition of a suction outlet as found in the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8:  a fitting, fitting assembly, cover/grate, and related components that provide a localized low pressure area for the transfer of water from a swimming pool, wading pool, spa, or hot tub.” This definition would include the sump.

  1. What should I do to document installation of VGBA compliant suction outlet covers in my public pool or spa?

Documentation which provides information about the suction outlet covers installed should be maintained as part of a permanent record for the life of that cover. The documentation should include the model number, the name of the manufacturer, the installation date of the cover, and the lifetime in years for that cover. Engineered suction outlets should have the design engineer’s inspection report with seal.

  1. What does the recall of some suction outlet covers mean and which ones were recalled?

In May of 2011 CPSC announced a voluntary recall of certain suction outlet covers. There were several manufacturers with multiple outlet models that recalled the covers. For information about the names and models of the recalled covers go to:  http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11230.htmlhttp://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11740.html, and http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11739.html.

  1. Where can I get more information about the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA)?

For more information about VGBA see the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website:  www.poolsafely.gov.

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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)

  1. What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law enacted by the US Congress and signed into law in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. The ADA prohibits discrimination based upon disability.

  1. How does ADA impact public pools and spas?

In 2002, the United States Access Board published the Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities and opened them for public comment. Included in these Guidelines was Section 15 Guidelines for Recreation Facilities. Requirements for Swimming Pools, Wading Pools and Spas were found in Section 15.8. The Guidelines were adopted into the Code of Federal Regulations in March 2012, although compliance with the Guidelines for swimming pools, wading pools and spas has been extended to January 31, 2013.

  1. What public pools and spas must comply with ADA?

According to the United States Justice Department swimming pools, wading pools and spas at places of public accommodation, at commercial facilities, or at a private entity that offers examinations or courses related to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary education, professional, or trade purposes fall under the Accessibility Standards for Recreation Facilities. Swimming pools, wading pools and spas at private residences, apartments, property owner associations, and certain private clubs are not required to comply with ADA.

  1. Will the Department of State Health Services enforce the ADA requirements?

No, ADA is a Federal Law that falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Justice Department. The Texas Department of State Health Services does not enforce ADA.

  1. Where can I get more information about compliance with ADA?

More information about ADA, deadlines for compliance, requirements for newly constructed or pre-existing swimming pools, wade pools and spas is available at: www.ada.gov.

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Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS)

  1. What are the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS)?

The Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) contain technical requirements for accessibility to sites, facilities, buildings and elements by persons with disabilities.

  1. How does TAS impact public pools and spas?

Changes to the existing TAS went into effect on March 15, 2012. Sections 1008 and 1009 contain regulations for water play components, swimming pools, wading pools, and spas.

  1. What water play components, swimming pools, wading pools and spas must comply with TAS?

According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the requirements are to be applied during the design, construction, additions to, and alteration of sites, facilities, buildings, and elements to the extent required by regulations issued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation under the authority of Texas Government Code, Chapter 469.

  1. Will the Department of State Health Services enforce the TAS requirements?

No, TAS falls under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The Texas Department of State Health Services does not enforce TAS.

  1. Where can I get more information about TAS?

More information about the Texas Accessibility Standards can be found at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Elimination of Architectural Barriers website: http://www.license.state.tx.us/ab/ab.htm.

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Texas Department of State Health Services - Division for Regulatory Services - P. O. Box 149347 - Austin, TX 78714-9347 - (512) 834-6770
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Last updated May 09, 2013