Three drowning-prevention bills recently were introduced in the Texas legislature.
A House bill (H.B. 673) would require the state’s Parks and
Wildlife Department to produce an instructional video on water
safety. A Senate bill (S.B. 770) would designate April as the
state’s official Water Safety Awareness Month, and another
Senate bill (S.B. 771) would require alarm systems on certain
“People across the state are going to be hearing a lot more
about water-safety legislation this year,” said Douglas
Dinkins, president of the Aquatic Professionals Education Council,
a statewide pool and spa industry advocacy group. “We at APEC
have always emphasized water safety and energy efficiency, but
we’re working to make the pool industry and the public aware
of new legislation more than ever before.”
S.B. 771 has already generated debate among pool professionals. If
passed into law, the measure would require alarms on all doors
providing access to a pool area “without an intervening
enclosure” such as a lockable gate, as well as an alarm that
detects “accidental or unauthorized entrance” into the
pool or spa.
These requirements would apply to any single-family residential
pool not surrounded by a self-locking enclosure, and any spa
without a locking safety cover. In addition, any person or company
who “constructs, installs or remodels” a pool would be
required to provide written notification of the law to the
Several APEC members have objected to S.B. 771’s mandates,
citing a lack of evidence that door alarms are effective safety
measures. “The Red Cross of Texas and the Texas
Children’s Hospital know that homeowners often disarm the
alarms on the back door, because they consider them a
nuisance,” Dinkins said.
Others in the industry argue that S.B. 771 places the burden of
safety in the wrong hands.
“I feel that the homeowner should be more responsible for
[layers of protection] than the pool builder,” said J.R.
Richard, president/CEO of Richard’s Total Backyard Solutions
in Houston, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder. “[A builder] can notify them
of the issue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re
going to do anything about it.”
Meanwhile, S.B. 770 focuses on making Water Safety Awareness Month
an official state observance. In previous years, charities and
organizations across the state have celebrated the month of April
with group swimming lessons and other public events. This bill aims
to get the observance on the books, in the hope that even more
facilities and groups will become aware of the month’s goals,
and join the campaign for water safety awareness.
H.B. 673 addresses safety in another way — it would require
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to produce a video
“suitable for use with high school students” that would
focus on safe swimming in rivers, lakes and coastal waters. The
bill would also require that the video be incorporated into the
state’s requirements for driver education.
Though this bill does not mention pools specifically, APEC
officials have confirmed that the organization supports the
measure. “We want to get consumers educated about water
safety,” Dinkins said.
Several other bills currently being discussed in the Texas
legislature also pertain to the pool industry. A new
Senate bill (S.B. 710) would require home sellers to disclose the
presence of a “hazardous” main pool drain to
buyers. In addition, a Senate bill designated S.B. 457 and a
House bill known as H.B. 883 both mandate certain efficiency
standards for residential pool pumps, pump motors and motor
If passed, these measures would make Texas the latest state to
adopt efficiency standards for pumps and motors, following the
examples of others such as California, Florida and Arizona.