Public Swimming Pools

A public swimming pool is defined as any pool or spa that serves more than an individual, family, or three living units and guests.

Title 26 Chapter 15 Section 2 of the Utah Code requires the regulation of public pools.  Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) regulates public swimming pools using the Utah Administrative Code Rule 392-302.  Public swimming pools are regulated by the Environmental Health Division of the SWUPHD.

Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity needed for a healthy life. Thousands of people enjoy the public pools and spas in our area each year.  SWUPHD regulates these facilities to help reduce the risk to the public for water-related adverse health events such as injuries, drowning, and recreational water illnesses like cryptosporidiosis.

If you have any questions not addressed here, please contact your local SWUPHD Environmental Health Division Office.


FAQ Answers

What is required to build a new public pool or spa?         Back to top

Begin by submitting plans, signed by an architect or engineer, and an application to your local Environmental Division of SWUPHD. It is always easier to fix problems on paper than it is once construction has begun.  Plans MUST include design specifications for fencing, and pool buildings for restrooms, etc.  See the Swimming Pool Checklist for a complete list of the minimum requirements for what needs to be shown on the plans. There is also a $100 plan review fee.  If the plans and application are in order an approval letter will be issued and plans will be wet stamped with an approval seal.  One set of approved plans must remain with SWUPHD, if you need approved plans returned to you, submit multiple copies.

Are any pools exempt from regulation?         Back to top

Yes, all private pools used by an individual, family or three or fewer living units are exempt from regulation. Also pools and spa that are used exclusively for therapeutic purposes and are attended by licensed medical or physiotherapy personnel are exempt from R392-302 if they drain the pool after each use.  If a therapy pool does not drain after each use then it must comply with R392-302 sections 27,28 & 29

Are there any age limits for the use of a public pool or spa?         Back to top

Yes, children under the age of 5 may not use a public spa pool under any circumstances. These young children do not have the body surface to volume ratio required to deal with the high heat of spa pools. Also where life guard services are not provided, children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.  Even where life guard services are provided, adult supervision is strongly recommended.  Finally, children under the age of 3 (and anyone not in control of their bowel) must wear swim diapers and waterproof pants beneath their swim suits to provided three layers of protect against a fecal release event.

How do I deal with a fecal release event at my pool?         Back to top

Close the pool immediately! After the public has safely exited the pool or spa enclosure, follow the guidelines from the CDC’s Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for Pool Staff.

What is Cryptosporidiosis?         Back to top

Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “Crypto.” For more information visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website on crypto.

What is a QPO?         Back to top

A QPO, or Qualified Pool Operator, is a person qualified under R392-30-29(1), Examples include, but are not limited to, those with certificates from the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Certified Pool Operator (CPO) course, the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Aquatics Facility Operator (AFO) course, and Salt Lake  Community College’s Pool & Spa  Operator Certification Course.  Qualified training courses are determined by the Utah State Health Department and not SWUPHD.

How do I become a QPO?         Back to top

Received Certification from a course approve by the Utah State Health Department. Currently approved courses include the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Certified Pool Operator (CPO) course, the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Aquatics Facility Operator (AFO) course, and Salt Lake  Community College’s Pool & Spa  Operator Certification Course.

What is a Pool Plan?         Back to top

A pool plan is a plan developed by the QPO and the pool or spa owners to maintain the sanitation and operational condition of the public pool or spa. Pool Plans for public pools or spas must be reviewed annually and posted in the pump room for easy inspection.  Additionally, the plan should be reviewed adjusted each time the QPO changes, the pool or spa ownership changes, or changes are made to the circulation system. Sample pool plan is available with the linked files above and guidelines for creating a pool plan can be found there as well.

Where can I find a pool log sheet that is acceptable to SWUPHD?         Back to top

A sample log sheet can be found with the linked files above. Any log sheet that records the information indicated on the Sample Log Sheet in an easily readable manner is acceptable.  A separate log must be kept for each pool or spa.

How often should I be checking my pool?         Back to top

The frequency of check on a pool is determined by the pool plan developed by the pool owner and the QPO. Each public pool or spa should have the pool chemistry, flow rate, and general pool conditions a minimum of once each day. Pools or spas that are not performing monthly bacteriological testing should be making these checks at least four times a day. See section four of Pool Plan Guidelines linked above for more details.

How often should a QPO inspect public pools or spas?         Back to top

Each public pool or spa must be inspected at least once each week by the person whose is listed in the Pool Plan as the assigned QPO. The QPO and the Owner are ultimately responsible for the condition of the pool and bather safety.  If the QPO is not present at the pool each day, they should train another person to check pool chemistry, flow rate, and general pool conditions when the QPO is not present.  The QPO may also responsible for performing the required monthly bacteriological testing if SWUPHD is not collecting the samples.

What does an inspection by SWUPHD mean?         Back to top

Environmental Health Scientists (EHS) from SWUPHD check pools for compliance with R392-302. The inspection reports reflect the condition of the pool at the time of the EHS visit and items marked as out of compliance should be corrected quickly.  Many items, such as water chemical balance, can change rapidly and may not be what the QPO observed during their last check, nor what they will observe on their next check of the pool.  These items are still brought to the attention of Owners and QPO’s as areas that may require additional equipment or monitoring and can aide in improving the pool plan to ensure the best operation and maintenance of the pool going forward.

How often does SWUPHD inspect public pools or spas?         Back to top

Each public pool or spa should be inspected by a representative of the SWUPHD Environmental Health division at least once each year. Additional inspections are conducted when complaints are received and as determined necessary by the EHS.  Occasionally staffing issues or other problems limit the EHS’s ability to inspect each pool.

Bacteria Testing?      Back to top

  • What bacteria tests are required each month?    R392-302-27(9) requires that each pool monthly test for the presence of coliform bacteria as well as a plate count for total colonies of all bacteria. At this time SWUPHD will only be requiring presence or absence of coliform testing, the plate count testing is highly recommended, but will not be required until the test can be readily provided in the area.
  • Why are bacteria tests being required by SWUPHD?    This requirement has been in the Utah state code in some form for more than 20 years, but has not been enforced in this area because of the difficulty in having the required testing performed. Instead all public pools in the area have been treated as if they have failed the bacteriological testing and required to test the pool chemistry four times each day.  By requiring monthly bacteriological testing SWUPHD can allow public pools to develop plans for maintaining pools with pool chemistry tests as little as once each day.
  • Southwest Utah Public Health Water Lab provides bacteriological testing for a fee of $25.00 per sample and our personnel will come to your permitted pool and collect the sample. If, however, you would prefer to collect the samples yourself and drop them off at our office, the fee is $20.00 and sample receiving times for Washington County can be found on our Lab Calendar linked in the files above.  Additionally, samples can be dropped off at our Garfield County office prior to 11 AM (if possible, call first) and in Kane County prior to 12 PM on Wednesdays.
  • Samples may be submitted to any lab approved by the Utah Division of Environmental Quality for drinking water testing. However, if a lab other than Southwest Utah Public Health Water Lab performs the bacteria testing, it is the responsibility of the pool owner to ensure that SWUPHD receives the results of the bacteria test within five business days.

I have a suction vacuum release system (SVRS) on my pool or spa, do I need anything else? Back to top

Yes, SVRS systems need to be tested according to manufacturer’s recommendations at least once each week. Failure to perform this test invalidates the system as a solution for the VGBA.  SVRS systems are also required to have either an audible or visual alarm that covers the pool enclosure along with a sign that prohibits the use of the pool or spa when the alarm is activated.

What safety equipment is required for a public pool?                 Back to top

Each public pool must have a life hook, a ring buoy with attached rope and a first aid kit. The ring buoy rope must be ten feet longer than the widest point of the pool. Where lifeguards are provided the lifeguard rescue tubes may be used as a substitute for the ring buoy. First Aid kits do not have to be in the pool enclosure itself, but must be readily accessible to bathers.

What signs are required for a pool or spa enclosure?                 Back to top

Where lifeguards are not provided, a warning sign must be placed in plain view and shall state: WARNING – NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY and BATHERS SHOULD NOT SWIM ALONE, with clearly legible letters, at least 4 inches high. In addition, the sign must also state CHILDREN 14 AND UNDER SHOULD NOT USE POOL WITHOUT RESPONSIBLE ADULT SUPERVISION. See the Recreational Bathing Facility Sign Requirements in the linked files above for additional rules that must be posted or enforced by lifeguards.

When is a pool required to have lifeguards?                 Back to top

Lifeguard service must be provided where direct fees are charged for the use of the pool (weather for open swimming, lessons or other), or if public funds support the operation of the pool. All other pools must either provide lifeguard service, or clearly post signs stating that life guard service is not provided.

What are the requirements for being a lifeguard at a public pool?        Back to top

Lifeguards for public pools in Utah must be trained in Standard Level First Aid, C.P.R for professional rescuers, and Lifeguarding. This training must be certified by the American Red CrossEllis and Associates, or an equivalent program approved by the Utah State Department of Health.

Why is my home owner’s association pool considered a public pool? Back to top

Home owners associations generally consist of four or more living units, and therefore meet the definition of a public pool. At this time Utah does not differentiate different types of public pools.

I own/care for a public pool or spa that is not being regulated, what should I do? Back to top

First, call your local Environmental Health Division office to determine if SWUPHD has a record of the pool. If no record is available the please ask to speak with the EHS assigned to that facility to create a record and determine if the pool is in need of an inspection.

What is the permit cost for a public pool?         Back to top

As of July 1, 2018, a public pool permit is $100 for each pool or spa. Bacteria sampling fees are included on the invoice as well so it is important that SWUPHD know which month the body of water is open for access. Fees are reviewed each year by the board of health and are subject to change. To view the updated fee schedule, click HERE.