What is a public swimming pool or spa pool?
The Public Health Act 2010 (the Act) defines public swimming pools and spa pools where the public are admitted, whether free of charge, on payment of a fee or otherwise:
- as an entitlement of membership of a club
- at a workplace for the use of employees
- at a hotel, motel or guest house or at holiday units, or similar facility, for the use of guests
- at a school or hospital
The definition does not include swimming pools or spa pools located in private residential premises, unless those pools are used by members of the public (i.e. learn-to-swim pool).
Additionally, a spa pool includes any structure (other than a swimming pool) that:
(a) holds more than 680 litres of water, and
(b) is used or intended to be used for human bathing, and
(c) has facilities for injecting jets of water or air into the water.
Who needs to Notify Council?
All operators of public swimming pools and spa pools are required to notify Council.
Notification of Public Swimming Pools & Spa Pools
Once notified, your details will be placed onto Council's register of public pools. You will also receive Council's annual Public Swimming Pools Newsletter which provides relevant and up-to-date information for persons that operate public pools.
Does Council inspect public pools?
Yes. Public pools are routinely inspected by Council's Environmental Health Officers (EHOs). Officers are authorised under the Act to ensure public pools are operated in accordance with the requirements of the Public Health Regulation 2012 (the Regulation). During the inspection, EHOs will undertake water quality testing, review record-keeping and assess the skills and knowledge of pool operators. Where issues are observed, EHOs will always strive to educate first. However, should the observed issues pose a significant threat to public health, Council may take immediate action to protect public health.
How often are public pools inspected?
Coffs Harbour City Council has implemented a risk based inspection frequency framework. This framework determines how often Council inspects a public pool based on the performance of the pool and operator in complying with the prescribed operating requirements of the Regulation.
The framework reduces the regulatory burden on high performing businesses and allows Council to target resources to those that present a greater risk to public health. As part of Council's routine inspection of public pools, the business will be assessed against a risk matrix. The matrix provides for an assessment of the type of premises (splash park, swim school, caravan park, hotel etc.) and confidence in management based on the premises history of compliance. The assessment is a weighted system with the final 'score' determining the frequency of the next inspection which will range from 6 months to 18 months.
As the operator of the pool you are in a position to influence how often Council will inspect your pool. You can do this by ensuring that your pool is consistently operated and maintained in accordance with the prescribed operating requirements detailed in the Regulation.
Do I need to test my pool water?
Yes. All persons operating a public pool must undertake chemical testing of the pool water. The type of testing required for different types of pools, and how often you need to test the water can be found in Council's Pool Water Testing Help Sheet and Template Log Sheet.
Should you wish to take a sample of water to a pool shop, please ensure you retain a record of this testing. Use of a pool shop for daily testing of your pool water is not permitted as a primary testing regime. The operator must have the necessary testing equipment and knowledge to ensure that tests are completed correctly on-site. Pool shops can assist you with determining what chemicals need to be added to your pool to rebalance the pool chemistry.
What equipment do I need to test the pool water?
The most appropriate test kit for testing pool water chemistry is a photometer. This electronic tester uses a combination of light and reagents to measure a number of parameters including pH, alkalinity, free and total chlorine etc. The number of parameters capable of being tested differs between units. These devices provide the most accurate and reliable tests for ensuring your pool meets the prescribed operating requirements.
Colorimetric (colour based) dropper kits and dip-in test strips are not acceptable for use in public pools. Whilst able to provide indicative information, they provide variable results and are not accurate for use in a commercial setting to ensure disinfection and water quality is maintained at appropriate levels.
For more information please contact one of Council's Environmental Health Officers on 02 6648 4000.