A Texas senator has introduced a state bill aimed at raising awareness of suction entrapment.
S.B. 710 would require individuals, upon the sale of their home, to document whether the pool or spa contains a “single blockable main drain.” The home seller would be left to determine the presence of a blockable main drain, or consult a professional. That notification would be included in the state’s existing home seller disclosure form.
The bill does not mention anti-entrapment backup devices or safety covers.
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) filed the bill in the Texas State Senate on Feb. 15. With the support of the Aquatic Professionals Education Council, a statewide pool and spa industry advocacy organization, and others, the senator hopes to see the bill passed in the current legislative session.
“We’re going to work in that regard,” said Steve Koebele, a government relations counsel for APEC. “We believe this bill would enhance customer awareness, improve pool safety and increase industry service demand.”
But supporters say the bill’s primary purpose is to make sellers and buyers aware of the legal ramifications a single blockable main drain may present.
“[A disclosure notice] helps the seller because it reduces any liability on their part,” said Jennifer Hatfield, government affairs director for the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. “As with other items on the notice, the responsibility comes back to the seller or the Realtor to hire an inspector. The system’s already set up that way; this is just one more item on the list.”
Once notified of the issue, the buyer would not be required to take any action before purchasing the property. Still, the drain disclosure would provide official documentation that the new homeowner had been notified of the potential hazard.
“By common sense alone, a buyer should be informed of certain things about the property that may not be readily apparent,”
Koebele said. “Those buyers may not be aware of the differences between a single main drain and dual drains, until those distinctions are explained to them.”
The bill’s supporters hope this combination of seller liability protection and buyer forewarning will prompt buyers and sellers to address drain safety voluntarily.
“If a [disclosure notice] says your home has termites, for example, you don’t have to get that fixed,” said Jake Posey, a government relations counsel for APEC. “But what happens in practice is [that] the seller may knock a little off the price to pay someone to come out and fix the problem.”
As awareness of the bill spreads among industry professionals throughout the state, response has been largely positive.
“I think it’s a smart bill,” said Charlie Claffey, president of Claffey Pools in Southlake, Texas, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder. “If there’s something potentially dangerous in the pool, the homeowner needs to be made aware of that so they can get it fixed.”
The lobbyists also expect a companion bill soon will be introduced in the Texas House of Representatives, though a sponsor for that bill had not been found as of press time.