Through comprehensive routine evaluations, our environmental health professionals ensure that public swimming pools are safe for recreational enjoyment. Public Health regulations enacted under the authority of O.C.G.A. 31-3-6 govern the construction, permitting, and operation of public swimming pools. Please contact your local Environmental Health Office if you have questions regarding the Rules and Regulations.
What Can I Do To Prepare My Public Swimming Pool For Its Opening Inspection?
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- Mail yearly fees to Cobb Public Health or Douglas Public Health, Center for Environmental Health. If necessary update your application for a swimming pool permit and mail it along with the established fee. An application may be obtained here.
- Remove the cover from the pool and clean any leaves and debris from the pool and the skimmers.
- Inspect the pumps, filters and the flow meter on the return line and ensure that they are in good condition and functioning properly. The sand in the filters may require changing if it is excessively dirty or has hardened in the filter over the course of the winter. Check with a local pool service for assistance if needed.
- Check the skimmers to ensure that they are all free flowing and unobstructed. Inspect the skimmer’s equalizer check valves, float valves and weirs to assure that they are installed correctly and are in good working condition.
- Evaluate the main drains to ensure that they are in good condition. Replace any missing or broken main drain grates.
- Check the chlorinator to ensure that the lines are not clogged and that they are working properly.
- Once the pool has been cleaned and the recirculation and filtration systems are working properly, begin treating the water and adjusting the chemicals. It may take several weeks to a month before the water is properly balanced. Check with a local pool company for assistance with your pool needs.
- If the emergency telephone was disconnected during the winter, contact the phone company and restore the service. Make sure that the telephone is in good working condition and replace it if it has been stolen or vandalized during the off season.
- Properly install and tighten all ladders and handrails. Check the bottom ends of the ladders and ensure that the rubber boot caps are installed. (This prevents the ladder from etching into the shell of the pool.)
- Check to see if the water fountains, showers and other faucets are working properly and free of leaks.
- Check fences and gates for damage and defects. The gates must be self closing and self latching. Make repairs as necessary.
- Clean bathhouse facilities and stock them with toilet tissue, soap and paper towels. Provide trash containers in each restroom facility and at least one trash container within the pool enclosure.
- Install safety equipment at the pool. This includes, but is not limited to:
- An easily readable pool rules sign posted in a conspicuous location
- A shepherd’s hook attached to a 14 foot, non-telescoping pole
- A U.S. Coast Guard approved throwing buoy with a line attached that is 1.5 times the width of the pool or 50 ft., whichever is longer
- A multi-colored float line installed at the slope break, for pools greater than 5 feet deep
- A 2 inch black strip on the top front edge of each step, egress or bench
- Depth markers indicated in feet on both the tile line and deck surface at the shallow end, the slope break, deep end, and other required intervals.
- “No Diving” marked on the deck with 2 inch (minimum) lettering at pool depths of 5 ft. or less
- A properly supplied first aid kit.
- A “Warning No Lifeguard on Duty” sign with 4 inch (minimum) lettering posted in a conspicuous location.
- A sign noting the location of the pool phone and emergency use directions. (i.e. “Dial 911”)
- Test the pool chemicals with a DPD type pool test kit and adjust the chemicals to the proper levels. Chlorine: 1.5 – 10 ppm unstabilized), 3 – 10 ppm (stabilized), Bromine: 2.0 – 10.0, pH: 7.2 – 7.8, Cyanuric acid: 100 ppm max.
- Call the Center for Environmental Health to schedule an inspection. (Cobb: (770) 435-7815/ Douglas: (770) 920-7311)
- If the pool does not pass the initial inspection, correct the violations noted on the inspection and schedule a re-inspection. The pool may open only after a passing inspection.
What Do I Do If My Pool Has A Single Main Drain?
The Cobb and Douglas County Boards of Health Rules and Regulations for Swimming Pools states that all pre-1985 pools in Cobb and Douglas County will now be required to have either two main drains or a single drain with a properly secured anti-entrapment cover. Any pool built after 1985 must have two main drains.
Additionally, any swimming pool, wading pool, spa, etc. which undergoes a renovation such as replastering, interior repainting, or any other modification that requires draining of the pool, shall submit specifications for review to the appropriate Center for Environmental Health with the understanding that the pool or spa must adhere to the current Rules and Regulations for Swimming Pools.
All existing single main drain pools must install either two main drains or a secure anti-entrapment cover. The pool owner or operator should also address the requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (see other FAQs for details) when making any main drain modifications. By addressing this situation, the risk of suction entrapment or hair entanglement of swimmers will be greatly reduced.
Thank you for your cooperation in this effort to ensure swimmer safety. If you have any questions, please
contact your local Center for Environmental Health (Cobb: 770-435-7815, Douglas: 770-920-7311).
What Are The Proper Chemistry Levels For My Public Swimming Pool?
|1.5 ppm (unstabilized)||3 – 5 ppm||10 ppm|
|3.0 ppm (stabilized)||3 – 5 ppm||10 ppm|
|2 ppm||4 – 6 ppm||10 ppm|
|7.2||7.4 – 7.6||7.8|
What Are The Conditions That Would Require My Public Swimming Pool To Be Closed?
A pool must close under the following conditions.
- Disinfectant and/or pH out of acceptable range
- Main drain grate not visible
- Main drain grate missing or damaged
- Poor recirculation of the pool water due to:
- Pumps not operating properly
- Less than 50% of skimmers operating
- Lack of safety equipment (life ring and/or shepherd’s hook)
- Emergency telephone missing or inoperative
- Chemical feeders or filters inoperative
- Fecal accidents or contamination of pool water with vomitus or blood
- Water temperature above 104°F
- Any other condition deemed to be an imminent health or safety hazard by the department
What Are The Requirements for My Public Swimming Pool’s Emergency Phone?
All swimming pools under the jurisdiction of Cobb & Douglas Public Health are required to have an operable, hard-wired, weatherproof telephone, with direct 911 access or capability. The emergency phone must be installed in a conspicuous location, and it must be available to bathers and pool staff at all times. A sign stating “EMERGENCY 911″ must be posted by the emergency phone. Directions to the phone’s location must be conspicuously posted if the telephone is not readily visible within the pool area.
It is also extremely important that pool emergency phones have their location verified with 911 operators. An unverified emergency phone may have the address of an adjacent property associated with its phone number, which could result in unnecessary delays from emergency medical technicians (EMTs). A verified emergency phone number will let the 911 operator know that the emergency situation is occuring at your swimming pool and assure that EMTs can arrive as quickly as possible.
Because cell phones are not usually at a defined location, are not provided with a continuous power supply, and do not provide accurate caller location information to 911 operators, they do not afford the public reliable means to call for assistance in the event of an emergency. For this reason, it has been the policy of Cobb & Douglas Public Health to prohibit the use of cell phones as an emergency phone for a swimming pool.
How Can I Help Reduce The Risk Of Disease Transmission At My Public Swimming Pool?
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While a fecal, vomitus, or blood contamination incident can present a health hazard to bathers in the immediate vicinity of the incident, the potential for disease transmission may be reduced by implementing the following procedures at your pool:
- Discourage bathers from entering the pool if they have suffered from gastrointestinal illness related diarrhea in the past two weeks.
- Encourage bathers to use the toilet and wash their hands with soap and water before using the pool. Take children on frequent bathroom breaks.
- Encourage bathers to always shower before entering the pool or before reentering the pool after using the toilet.
- Require that children who are not yet potty-trained and incontinent bathers wear swimsuit diapers and tight-fitting rubber or plastic pants. Keep in mind that even though rubber pants and swimsuit diapers can contain most fecal accidents, they may not be completely effective (i.e., improperly sized, become stretched or torn, etc.). Immediately remove the child or incontinent bather from the pool and pool area if defecation occurs.
- Do not permit diaper changing in the pool area and prohibit the practice of dipping a child’s bottom in the pool as part of the diaper changing process. If possible, install diaper changing tables in bather accessible bathrooms.
- Encourage bathers to avoid swallowing pool water.
- Ensure all pool personnel are properly trained in the prevention and management of pool water fecal, vomitus, or blood incidents.
- Evacuate and close the pool immediately in the event of vomitus or fecal contamination. Also, refer to the Department’s Recommended Procedures for Managing Fecal Accidents or Contamination with Vomitus or Blood in a Swimming Pool.
- Ensure that your pool water is balanced and tested frequently, and that a minimum free chlorine residual of 1.5 ppm (3.0 ppm for pools using stabilized chlorine) is maintained. Maintain the pH between 7.2 -7.8. Do not operate the pool if the filtration or disinfection systems are not in proper working order.
- Ensure that the pool, pool piping, deck, and deck piping are properly designed to prevent gray water, wastewater, or sewage from backing up or draining into the pool. Ensure proper back-flow prevention devices are installed on potable water lines and that they are in good, working condition.
- Discourage bathers from sharing items, like towels or razors, with other people.
- Encourage bathers with skin infections to stay out of the pool. If that is not possible, encourage the bather to cover any bumps, cuts, or infected areas with water tight bandages.
- Do not allow pets in the pool area, and try to prevent wild animals from using the pool as a water source.
When incidents of contamination occur, log all information documenting what actions were taken to correct the situation in the pool’s daily records.
How Do I Handle Fecal, Vomit, or Blood Accidents At My Public Swimming Pool?
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1. Close the pool and remove bathers immediately from the pool area. If multiple pools share the same filtration system, all of the pools will have to close. Do not allow anyone to enter the contaminated pool(s) until the entire decontamination procedure is completed.
2. Manually remove as much of the waste from the pool water as possible using a net, scoop, or bucket and properly dispose of waste. Do not use the pool vacuum system to remove waste. Clean and disinfect the tools/equipment used to remove the waste from the pool. To disinfect cleaning tools/equipment, immerse them in the pool during the remaining disinfection process.
3. Disinfect the pool water according to the type of incident:
- Formed fecal contamination: With the filtration system in normal operation, raise the free chlorine residual to 2 ppm or higher with a non-stabilized chlorine product and ensure that the water’s pH is 7.5 or less and the temperature is at least 77oF. Maintain the chlorine and pH at these levels for at least 25 minutes so that a CT Value* of 45 is achieved. If stabilized chlorine (trichlor or dichlor) is used, a CT Value of 90 (e.g., a free chlorine residual of 2 ppm for 45 minutes) must be achieved.
- Diarrheal fecal contamination: With the filtration system in normal operation, raise the free chlorine residual to 20 ppm** with a non-stabilized chlorine product and ensure that the water’s pH is 7.5 or less and the temperature is at least 77oF. Maintain the chlorine and pH at these levels for at least 12.75 hours to achieve a CT Value of 15,300. If stabilized chlorine (trichlor or dichlor) is used, lower the water’s pH to 6.5 and raise the free residual chlorine to 40 ppm** with a non-stabilized chlorine product for at least 30 hours so that a CT Value of 72,000 is achieved. Alternative treatment may be accomplished through the use of a “secondary disinfection system” (as defined by the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code) or with the complete drainage of the pool.
- Vomitus contamination: With the filtration system in normal operation, raise the free chlorine residual to 2 ppm or higher with a non-stabilized chlorine product and ensure that the water’s pH is 7.5 or less and the temperature is at least 77oF. Maintain the chlorine and pH at these levels for at least 25 minutes so that a CT Value of 45 is achieved.
- Blood contamination: Blood contamination of properly maintained pool water does not pose a public health risk to swimmers. The pool operator may choose to utilize the formed stool contamination protocol to satisfy patron concerns.
NOTE: Other disinfectant concentrations and closure times can be used as long as the required CT Value is achieved. Test pool water periodically and in varying locations to ensure that the free chlorine residual is maintained and is distributed through-out the pool during treatment. Pools utilizing bromine shall be treated with a non-stabilized chlorine product as noted for the incident types listed above.
4. Disinfect any contaminated surfaces with a 1:10 dilution of fresh household bleach with water or an equivalent EPA registered disinfectant that has been approved for body fluids disinfection. The disinfectant shall be left to soak on the affected area for at least 20 minutes or as otherwise indicated on the disinfectant label directions. Clean surface to remove disinfectant.
5. Reopen the pool when the free chlorine residual returns to an acceptable range (1.5 – 10 ppm or 3 – 10 ppm for pools using stabilized chlorine) and the pool water is chemically balanced. High chlorine levels can be reduced by adding sodium thiosulfate in accordance with label instructions.
6. When an incident of fecal, vomitus, or blood contamination occurs, log all information documenting what actions were taken to correct the situation in the pool’s daily record.
* CT inactivation value refers to the concentration (C) of free chlorine in ppm multiplied by time (T) in minutes at a specific pH and temperature. Example: 3 ppm free chlorine x 15 minutes = 45 CT Value
** Most readily available chlorine test kits cannot measure free chlorine levels this high. Use a chlorine testing method (test strips, titration, etc.) that can measure free chlorine at this level or higher.
What Is The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act?
On December 19, 2007, the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The purpose of this law was to help prevent swimming pool suction entrapment/entanglement injuries and deaths by developing a new standard for main drain grates along with a requirement for all public pools to install these new grates by December 19, 2008.
For existing pools with dual main drains, compliance can be achieved by installing, as per manufacturer instructions, a VGB compliant grate on each drain. Grates meeting the new standard will be permanently marked with “ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007” or any successor standard and may also be marked with “VGB-2008.”
Additional information marked on the grate shall include a maximum flow rate, an approximate grate life, and the manufacturer’s name and model number. Single main drain pools must correctly install a VGB compliant grate and a secondary method of protection to prevent entrapment/entanglement.
Acceptable forms of secondary protection include the following:
- Safety vacuum release system (SVRS)
- Suction limiting vent system
- Gravity drainage system
- Automatic pump shut off system
This secondary layer of protection may be waived for a single main drain pool if a VGB compliant grate that is at least 18” x 23” or larger is installed.
It is the pool owner’s responsibility to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. The Act empowers the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with the enforcement of this new law and also gives the CPSC the ability to fine pool owners for noncompliance and close the pool until compliance is obtained.
Even though Cobb & Douglas Public Health will not be the primary enforcement agency for the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, we will require that pools approved for construction or renovation on or after December 19, 2008 install VGB compliant grates. Also, swimming pools wishing to install VGB compliant grates must obtain a modification permit from the department prior to their installation to assure compliance with the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Rules and Regulations for Swimming Pools.
Cobb & Douglas Public Health strongly recommends compliance by December 19, 2008 for pools operating year round and by the 2009 opening date for seasonal pools. By meeting this deadline, you will not only comply with a federal law, but also assure a safer recreational environment for the bathers utilizing your swimming pool.
Does A Residential Swimming Pool Require A Permit From The Health Department?
If you are planning to build a residential swimming pool on property that is served by an on-site sewage management system (i.e., a septic tank), it is required that you obtain a Residential Swimming Pool Construction Permit from our department prior to beginning construction. The purpose of this permit is to ensure that the installation of the swimming pool does not have a negative impact on your existing septic system or your ability to adequately repair the system in the future.
A health department permit is not required if your swimming pool will be located on property that is serviced by a county or municipal sanitary sewer system.
Requirements for obtaining a Residential Swimming Pool Construction Permit can be found here.
Recreational Water Illness And Injury (RWII) Awareness
CDC RWII Information
With so many people heading to swimming pools and beaches for fun and recreation, it is a great time to raise Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) awareness and promote healthy and safe swimming among our families and communities. This year’s Centers for Disease Control’s theme for RWII awareness is “Healthy and Safe Swimming: We’re in it Together”.
Below, you will find CDC Healthy Swimming links and prevention response tools to give you more information about topics that may interests you, such as, Animals and Pools, Breastfeeding in Pools and Hot Tubs, and Swim Diapers.
May we all do what we can to help make this one of the healthiest and safest swimming seasons yet!