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New swimming pool/spa rules adopted

Synopsis

New rules governing swimming pools and spas in Texas, including those at apartments, take effect this month. Learn more about the key changes in the rules, and plan to attend a Texas Apartment Association webinar detailing the new requirements.


Key takeaways

  • Rules governing Texas swimming pools and spas, including those at apartments, have been extensively revised, with the new rules in effect as of January 1, 2021.
  • Many of the revisions cover engineering and construction requirements for new pools, spas and bathhouses, and do not apply to existing facilities, but new operator requirements will apply to all such facilities, and new signage requirements will be in effect whenever signs are replaced.
  • The Texas Apartment Association will sponsor a webinar for members to review the details of the new rules. Look for more information soon on when this webinar will be offered.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has overhauled swimming pool and spa rules, including those at apartments, with the new rules effective as of January 1, 2021. Apartment pools and spas are considered Class C pools under these rules.

Much of the focus in the extensively revised new rules cover engineering and construction requirements for new pools, spas, and bathhouses. Existing pools and spas are not generally subject to the new engineering and construction requirements but must still comply with new requirements regarding water quality and user safety.

Among other provisions, existing pools and spas will need to have updated signage when existing signs are replaced and there is a new requirement that all Class A, B and C pools and spas must be maintained under the supervision and direction of a trained and certified operator. The rules also clarify and expand water testing requirements.

New sign rules, certified operator requirements

The new sign rules clarify that children under the age of 14 should not swim without adult supervision and also contain new language prohibiting certain activities, like extended breath-holding underwater or swimming after recently having diarrhea. (See chart for the new requirements.)

The certified operator is not required to be onsite whenever the pool is open and may be responsible for multiple pools and spas. In other words, a property owner may choose to use a pool service company with a certified operator or have certified staff.

Specific language in the new rules concerning pool operators includes:

265.205. Operation and Management of Pools and Spas.

(a) Required operator certification. All Class A, Class B, and Class C pools and spas shall be maintained under the supervision and direction of a properly trained and certified operator.

(1) The operator is not required to be on-site whenever the pool or spa is open.

(2) The operator may be responsible for multiple pools and spas and shall ensure any on-site staff is properly trained in day-to-day pool and spa operations and maintenance.

(3) The trained and certified operator’s name and contact information shall be made available to on-site staff, such as lifeguards, and to property management companies, or property managers, and shall be made available at the request of the department or a local regulatory authority.

(b) Operator training and certification. Operator training and certification can be obtained by completion of one of the following courses or their equivalent:

(1) the NRPA, “Aquatic Facility Operator;”

(2) the PHTA, “Certified Pool Operator;”

(3) the ASPSA, “Licensed Aquatic Facility Technician;” or

(4) an equivalent course which requires testing and provides certification that is approved by the local regulatory authority.

Given the length and extensive nature of the rules revision, it is not possible to do a short summary of all of the changes. However, the Texas Apartment Association will be working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to educate members about the new rules.

A webinar, which will be announced in TAA publications and the website, is tentatively being planned for late February or early March. Look for more information coming soon.

TAA was actively involved in the rule process and submitted extensive comments earlier this year—many of which were incorporated into the final version of the rules.

A copy of the new rules can be found at Public Swimming Pools and Spas – Home (texas.gov).

Figure: 25 TAC §265.201(j)(5)

Figure: 25 TAC §265.208(e)

Note: Additional Signage requirements can be found in the rules. Variations of the language of the required safety signs are allowed if the language of the safety signs is substantially equivalent to the required language and if local regulatory officials that regulate public swimming pools and spas approve the variations before the sign is posted in the pool or spa yard.

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