Lawmakers throughout the country are following California’s lead in legislating more energy-efficient pools and spas, but the proposed language could cause problems.
Bills in Texas, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington mandate
requirements for portable spas and pool pumps using the original
text of California’s Title 20 regulations. However, the
language in that code has since been amended to clarify pump
requirements and alter spa- testing standards.
“They’re pulling sections out of Title 20, but there
are no teeth in that because Title 20 has about 15 pages related to
pools [and spas],” said Steve Barnes, chairman of the
Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Technical Committee, and product
manager of safety and compliance at Pentair Water Pool
& Spa in Sanford, N.C.
By using only part of the energy regulations, lawmakers are leaving
out the language that includes replacement motors and defines a
pump’s total horsepower. Furthermore, in using the old
version, once again spa manufacturers are held to an almost
impossibly strict standard for testing efficiency.
The Aquatic Professionals Education Council, an Austin, Texas-based
lobbying group, is working with legislators to amend the Texas
bill. However, it may deviate from California’s
“One of the things we’ve agreed with is a simple first
step … [by] just going to cap-start, cap-run motors,”
said Kevin Tucker, APEC’s public information officer.
“The cost to the consumer is very low.”
The Nevada bill was introduced in March, but hasn’t moved
past its first committee.
“We’ve been tracking two or three bills, but that one
doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of interest at this
point,” noted Terry Mayfield, manager of APSP’s
The adoption of out-of-date energy language for pools and spas has
happened before. Connecticut, Oregon and Florida already have adopted the
old Title 20 language.
For its part, the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management has
issued a temporary allowance for manufacturers who comply with
California’s new efficiency provisions.
Florida’s regulations don’t take effect until 2011,
giving lawmakers ample time to adjust the language as necessary.
Updated language on spa efficiency testing and pool pumps could be
taken directly from the upcoming federal Energy Policy and
Conservation Act if an amendment is passed to include pools and
“One of the reasons we pushed for the 2011 date on the bill
last year is specifically because we had national standards coming
down the tube,” said Jennifer Hatfield, director of
government and public affairs at the Florida Swimming
APSP leadership is advising the amendment’s authors on how to
include language that mirrors the newly amended Title 20. To create
consistency, APSP also has formed standards writing committees for
pool and spa efficiency. The groups began meeting first week of
April and aim to develop uniform language that can be referenced by
manufacturers and state alike.