With just a few days left before the deadline to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has released a statement that offered no clear-cut answers on whether or not non-compliant pools must close.

“A lot of people are in a paralyzed situation because of the lack of specific answers,” said Carvin DiGiovanni, senior technical director for the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. “Everything’s just confused at this point.”

This Friday, all public pools are to have approved drain covers, as well as dual-drain systems or other specified substitutes, according to the federal law.

The requirement generally hasn’t been a problem for vessels with dual-drain systems and smaller drain covers. However, facilities in need of drain covers measuring 12-by-12-inches and above are finding it hard to receive product in time. Many with custom-made sumps and drains are waiting to find out their options and operators of single-drain pools needing major renovations are in a holding pattern waiting for funding.

In response to these problems, the CPSC had indicated it would provide some kind of guidance to address special cases.

However, it appears that will not occur.

During a press conference Monday, CPSC Acting Chair Nancy Nord emphasized that the law clearly set the Dec. 19 deadline.

She then stated, “We are aware that there is an issue with respect to the availability of compliant drains. I would hope that pools have already put their orders in, or are on waiting lists, are making every good-faith attempt that they can to get a compliant drain and get it installed.”

In addition, the agency went on to say that it will prioritize wading pools, inground spas and other shallow-water pools that pose a higher risk to children in its enforcement efforts.

Those with single-drain systems or flat drain grates will be targeted first, according to CPSC Spokesperson Scott Wolfson. He added that pools with the more readily available 8- and 9-inch drains will also not receive leniency.

The agency’s announcement was greeted with confusion and dismay by many industry members.

“What’s not clear today is, whenever someone's enforcing, are they going to close the wading pool and leave the other pool open if it’s noncompliant? Or while they’re there, are they going to have all the pools closed,” said Tom Lachocki, CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo. “There’s no way to know that.”

NSPF and other organizations are encouraging aquatics professional to write their Senators and Congressional representatives, asking for a deadline extension. Lachocki said he hopes these letters keep going out past the deadline. APSP, however, doesn’t want to revisit the law in Congress and hopes to continue working with CPSC.