The compliance deadline for the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has passed, and many professionals operating noncompliant pools don’t know whether to close them.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission statement offered no clear-cut answers for those needing products that aren’t yet available.

On Dec. 19, all public pools were to have approved drain covers as well as dual-drain systems or other specified substitutes.

This hasn’t been a problem for some pools, but facilities in need of drain covers measuring 12-by-12-inches and above are finding it difficult to receive product in time. Several covers are approved, but are still making their way into the market.

Many facilities with custom-made sumps and drains are waiting to find out their options, and some operators of single-drain pools must wait for the funding to renovate.

In light of these complications, aquatics and pool/spa associations had requested a deadline extension from CPSC. But the agency said that only Congress could extend the deadline, which was written into the law. However, the agency had indicated that guidance was to come.

What it said did not provide the desired advice or legal shelter. CPSC Acting Chairwoman Nancy Nord stated, “I would hope that pools have already put their orders in or are on waiting lists, [and] are making every good-faith attempt that they can make to get a compliant drain. ...”

CPSC went on to say that in its own enforcement, it will prioritize shallow-water pools that pose a higher risk to children: wading pools, inground spas and pools designed specifically for young children. Those with single-drain systems or flat drain grates will be targeted first, said CPSC Spokesman Scott Wolfson. Pools with the more readily available 8- and 9-inch drains, he said, must also comply.

So far, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina have expressed interest in enforcing the law. It isn’t known if more states will observe the priorities that CPSC set out. Some worry that insurance companies will pull coverage on noncompliant pools.

Regarding field-fabricated and custom-made drains, CPSC doesn’t necessarily believe the situation is as murky as others do.

“It does not appear that enough operators and installers realized quickly enough about their ability to use pool engineers to certify their existing grates,” Wolfson said. “That is an option that, when achieved, provides a great benefit ... to come into compliance quickly.”

The National Swimming Pool Foundation and other organizations are encouraging aquatics professionals to continue writing their senators and representatives asking for deadline extensions. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, however, doesn’t want to revisit the law in Congress and hopes to continue working with CPSC.

“Reopening the law is not going to help the marketplace to provide safety,” said Carvin DiGiovanni, senior director of technical, education and government relations for APSP.