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Federal Pool and Spa Safety

As of Dec. 19, 2007, The Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act (Public Law 110-140), also known as Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, requires all public pools to install special suction entrapment prevention devices or systems. This law is based on the American National Standard for Entrapment Avoidance in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Catch Basins (ANSI/APSP-7).

There are two major provisions of this federal law:

  • The manufacture, import and sale of certified suction outlet fittings such as drain fittings and covers
  • The installation of entrapment avoidance systems in public pools and spas

What are Public Pools and Spas?

A public pool or spa (which includes hot tubs) can include:

  • Free facilities
  • Facilities that require a fee
  • Multiple family residential facilities
  • Hotels or other public accommodations
  • Facilities operated by the federal government for the military and their dependents and for any federal agency or department

Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act Compliance

This law requires new and existing public pools and spas to be equipped with certified covers on every suction outlet. It also requires that all public pools and spas with a single outlet include one or more of the following additional options:

  • Unblockable drain
  • Safety vacuum release system
  • Suction limiting vent system
  • Gravity drainage system
  • Automatic pump shut-off
  • Drain disablement
  • Equivalent system approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

For information and definitions of these systems, visit

Pool and Spa Drain Covers

It is important to look for the appropriate markings on compliant drain covers. If there is no mark or you are otherwise in doubt, contact the manufacturer and ask for a copy of the certificate. Keep a record of where and when you purchased the cover.

  • Covers made during the summer of 2008 used the ASME symbol and/or the “ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007” mark
  • During the late summer and early fall of 2008, no marking was placed on drain covers made to be compliant with the standard
  • Since November 12, 2008, newly made drain covers should have the “VGB 2008” marking

If your pool or spa contains a noncompliant cover, the drain cover must be replaced or the drain must be disabled. You can disable a drain by:

  • Filling with concrete
  • Gluing in a plug
  • Reversing the flow
  • Permanently disconnecting the drain from pool pump suction
  • Permanently disconnecting the suction outlet pipe from all circulation systems

Enforcement of the Pool and Spa Safety Act

The Pool and Spa Safety Act states that its requirements will be treated as a consumer product safety rule under the Consumer Product Safety Act and enforced by local health departments. Pools and spas covered by this law should not be opened to the public until they are brought into compliance. A willful violation of the drain cover standard could result in criminal penalties, including fines or imprisonment.

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