The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has $1 million available for municipalities to enforce the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
There weren’t any the last time CPSC rolled out a grant program to incentivize states to enforce the nation’s first federal swimming pool safety law.
So the commission is rejuvenating the initiative, this time with a focus on local jurisdictions. Smaller and more legislatively nimble, municipalities may be better positioned to meet the grant program’s minimum requirements.
At least that is CPSC’s hope.
The grant program has been an integral part of the VGBA since the law was passed in 2007. In 2010, CPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made $2 million available to states that enact pool and spa safety laws that meet certain criteria.
One of the biggest roadblocks, however, was that states would have to enforce these laws on new and existing pools. “We found that there were really no states that had made legislative changes to their pool code to align with the federal law and thus qualify for the grants,” said Scott Wolfson, CPSC’s director of communications.
Two years ago, the agency made the requirements less stringent. Only pools built since June 2012 would be subject to code. But, still, the money had gone untouched.
Now with a renewed effort, the agency once again has revised the statutory language to make it easier for grant recipients to administer an enforcement program. Earlier this year, the government struck a line from the statute which would have required enforcement on pools built since 2012. In other words, if a city received a grant today, pools built two years ago would have to be brought up to code.
The law is simpler now. Any pool built since the city applied for the grant would fall under the new code.
“This change appears to recognize the difficulties that exist for a city or state to have the ability to enforce such a retroactive requirement,” said Jennifer Hatfield, a government relations consultant with the Florida Swimming Pool Association.
CPSC is currently hiring a project manager to oversee the distribution of grants. Recipients will have to spend half the money on enforcement and half on safety education.
Municipalities wouldn’t have to build a new education program from scratch.
“We would like awardees to benefit from the Pool Safely education campaign that already exists,” he said of the commission’s awareness program. “What we’re not necessarily looking for is a jurisdiction to do recreate the wheel.”
Wolfson said he’ll appoint a grant manager in the coming weeks. Application guidelines have not yet been established.