Health departments across California are spreading the word about the state’s version of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
By the end of January, most counties had mailed letters to
public swimming pool owners and operators informing them of the
latest requirements for new and existing pools and spas under AB
But contrary to much of the confusion surrounding implementation
of the federal VGB Act, it appears local governments are better
prepared to address the state legislation that took effect in
“Our department and inspection staff have been giving out
preliminary information on the pending law to pool and spa
operators for more than a year now,” said Keith Jones, deputy
director of district environmental services for Riverside County,
which houses upwards of 7,000 public pools and spas.
Like VGB, AB 1020 requires installation of anti-entrapment drain
covers as well as secondary devices for single-main drain pools and
spas. For new pools and spas, the law also mandates split main
County notices also direct owners to a compliance form to be
completed by licensed contractors within 30 days of the
modifications and returned to the state by July 1. To cover
administrative costs, a $6 surcharge for each pool or spa also is
collected by the state.
Contrary to VGB, the state law gives express powers of enforcement
to county health departments and their inspectors. For counties
such as Sacramento, it’s a welcome development.
“Now we have some teeth added to the law,” said
Colleen Maitoza, supervising environmental health specialist for
Sacramento County’s environmental management department.
“You had the sense some people were dragging their feet
before the state had the authority to enforce it. Before, it was
more about education. The law is part of the health and safety code
In the next two months, Sacramento County inspectors will
undergo in-house training on checking SVRS’s and secondary
devices, Maitoza said. And beginning in May, inspectors will be
writing up noncompliance as violations, she added.
Maitoza wasn’t certain, however, if facilities found in
violation would face closure or be given time to make the required
fixes and submit them for re-inspection: “That’s still
up in the air,” she said.
As for service technicians, some do expect a bump in business as
a result of the latest requirements. But they also agree it’s
important to take the time to verify modifications that have been
made in the past.
Besides, it should be less taxing than the rush to comply with the
federal anti-entrapment mandate.
“We’ve already been down this road, and we have the
experience,” said Javier Payan, owner of Payan Pool Service
in El Cajon, Calif. “Plus, some of the things they’ve
required in the past haven’t been enforced. So I think a lot
of good will come from this. I welcome it.”