The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act mandates swimming pool & spa safety requirements as they apply to pool and spa owners and managers.
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The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
In December 2007, Congress and President Bush signed a new law which requires ALL PUBLIC POOLS AND SPAS to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. The law includes provisions which allow states to qualify for Federally funded, State Swimming Pool Safety Grants, by implementing their own laws that meet requirements detailed in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act and elsewhere. To view summaries of New York State laws associated with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act that are applicable to both residential and commercial swimming pools and spas, see NYS Swimming Pool Rules and Regulations found in the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
Please note that New York State also mandates the use of barrier fences, and swimming pool & spa alarms in many cases of commercial and residential installations, which can be read about at the web site just mentioned (NYS Swimming Pool Rules and Regulations found in the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code).
What should I do to comply with The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act?
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has been in effect since December 2008. The law states that each public pool and spa in the United States must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices or systems that comply with the ASME/ANSI 112.19.8 performance standard or any successor standard; and each public pool and spa in the United States with a single main drain other than an unblockable drain shall be equipped, at a minimum, with 1 or more of the following devices or systems designed to prevent entrapment by pool or spa drains.
The law further states that each swimming pool or spa drain cover manufactured, distributed or entered into commerce in the United States shall conform to the entrapment protection standards of the ASME/ANSI A 112.19.8 performance standard, or any successor standard regulating such swimming pool or drain cover.
Read the law in its entirety (click on the pdf icon that follows):
What this means for your pool & spa
NO ONE is grandfathered on these regulations.
As of December 20, 2008, your pool, whether it has single or multiple drains, needs new anti-entrapment drain covers that must comply with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 performance standard.
Your public pool or spa that has a single drain must have at least one additional level of entrapment protection which could be:
- Safety Vacuum Release: a vacuum release system capable of providing vacuum release at a suction outlet caused by a high vacuum occurrence due to a suction outlet flow blockage. (e.g., Stingl Switch, Vac-Alert, etc.).
- Suction-Limiting Vent System*: a suction limiting vent system that utilizes a collector tank. A suction-limiting vent system has a tamper resistant atmospheric opening, which is a pipe vented to the atmosphere that connects to a suction pipe between the pool and the pump. When an entrapment of vacuum occurs, air from the vent pipes replaces the water in the suction pipe by breaking the vacuum.
- Gravity Drainage*: a gravity drainage system utilizes a collector tank, meaning that the water flowing from the pool/spa to the circulation system does not flow directly to the pump. The water collects in a collection tank or basin open to the atmosphere and the pump pulls the water from it for circulation back into the pool.
- Automatic Pump Shut Off System: an automatic pump shut-off system is a device that shuts off the pump/motor in a vacuum or entrapment occurrence.
- Drain Disablement: a device or system that disables the drain.Drain disablement cannot be installed on new construction, as single blockable drains are not permitted by code. To disable the main drain, it needs to be plugged and filled with concrete. It then needs to be permanently disconnected from pool pump suction and circulation systems, to reverse the flow of the water.
*This would have been installed during pool construction. It cannot be added to an already existing pool, only new construction.
You should also note that the Act defines unblockable drain as a drain of any size or shape that a human body cannot sufficiently block to create a suction entrapment issues. The ANSI/APSP-7 2006 standard requires that to be considered unblockable, a drain must be at least 31” in one dimension and at least 3” in the other dimension or must be larger than 18” in one dimension and larger than 23” in the other dimension with 4 in. radius corners.
What you should do to become compliant
- On all drains, install a NEW ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 performance standard anti-vortex or anti-entrapment cover.
- On all pools or spas that have single drains that are not unblockable OR two main drains measuring less than 36” apart (three feet from center-to-center) per pump, must have at least one additional level of entrapment protection (See above).
- RESIDENTIAL POOLS: As of December 20, 2008, it is AGAINST federal law to make or sell a drain cover in the United States that does not comply with ASME/ANSI 19.8. All new residential construction must comply with the federal law.