Congress passes new legislation designed to promote safety of pools which could impact homeowners associations

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (“Act”) was passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2007.  The Act is named after Virginia Graeme Baker, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, who died in a hot tub in 2002.  The Act applies to condominium, townhome, and homeowners’ associations who have pools.

The purpose of the Act is to promote safety of pools and spas and help prevent drowning, especially of children.  The Act establishes a federal pool and spa drain cover standard, a state pool safety grant program and an education program to inform the public of methods to prevent drowning and entrapment.  The Act applies to “public pools and spas” which includes those open to the public generally, whether free or for a fee and those open exclusively to: (1) members of an organization and guests, (2) residents of a multi-unit apartment building, apartment complex, residential real estate development, or other multi-family residential area; and (3) patrons of a hotel or other public accommodations facility.  The Act is intended to apply to community association pools and spas.

Under the Act, by 19 December 2008, public pools and spas must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices or systems.  Generally speaking, every “public pool and spa” with a single main drain, other than an unblockable drain, must be equipped with at least one of the following devices:  (1) safety vacuum release system which ceases operation of the pump, reverses the circulation flow, or otherwise provides a vacuum release at a suction outlet when a blockage is detected, (2) suction-limiting vent system with a tamper-resistant atmospheric opening, (3) gravity drainage system that utilizes a collector tank, (4) automatic pump shut-off system, or (5) device or system that disables the drain. 

              For a copy of the new law, please click here.

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