Monday, June 14, 2010

Is Your Community Pool On the Verge of Being Closed?

One of the most popular ways to beat the heat in Florida is the swimming pool. It is no surprise with our great year-round weather that most common interest ownership communities in our State enjoy the benefits of at least one community pool. In addition to the fun and relaxation a swimming pool offers, it carries with it a great responsibility as well. Each year, pool-related accidents occur resulting in severe injury and even death. One of the most devastating of these mishaps arises when individuals, oftentimes young children, get caught by the suction created by a blocked pool drain and those individuals are either permanently disabled or killed.

To combat this nationwide problem, the federal government enacted the comprehensive Virginia Graeme Baker Act (“VGBA”) in 2007. CAN previously set out a series of alerts about this law when it first became effective. This law set forth a number of stipulations regarding pool safety and placed a major emphasis on preventing drain-related injuries and deaths. The VGBA set a deadline of December 19, 2008, for all public pools and spas to have their drains equipped with ASME/ANSI standard A 112.19.17 or similarly approved drain covers. Reports indicate that most associations heeded the call to retrofit with these types of drain covers and have complied with this first portion of the safety requirements.

In addition to the federal requirements set forth under the VGBA, common interest ownership communities in Florida must also contend with the more stringent requirements set forth in Florida Administrative Code Ann. 64E-9.007(10) (e) (2010). The Florida Legislature has mandated that all public pools and spas also have their main drain outlet connected to a collector tank. These tanks serve as an additional safety measure by acting as a sort of pressure release valve which can help avert the dangerously high level of suction created when a pool drain is blocked. The following are the government-mandated deadlines by which these tanks must be installed:

• All spa type pools built before 1977-Retrofit by July 1, 2010
• All spa type pools built between 1977 and 1986-Retrofit by July 1, 2011
• All spa type pools built between 1986 and 1995-Retrofit by July 1, 2012
• All other pools-Retrofit by July 1, 2013

If your pool has not been retrofitted with a properly sized and piped collector tank by its respective date set forth above, your community association will be in violation of the law and your pool will be closed. Such a violation also carries with it substantial liability should any accidents occur as well as possible civil and criminal penalties.

For those of you who have properly complied with the first part of the VGBA and installed the necessary main drain covers and grates, you must now be equally vigilant about installing the proper collector tank, sooner rather than later, if you don’t already have one.

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