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Swimming Pools

What is a pool?
What are the main types of pools, and what are some characteristics of them?
What kinds of swimming facilities are regulated by the Health Department?
How often are pools inspected?
What do the pool inspectors look for?
When can a pool be closed by the Health Department?
What is the ideal level of chlorine for a pool?
How often must pool water re-circulate?
What is the ideal water temperature for an indoor pool?
What illnesses or injuries should keep me from going to a public swimming pool?
I have a small child. What are some guidelines for wearing diapers in a public pool?
Where can I get more information on pool regulations?

What is a pool?
A pool is any body of water that is re-circulated using pumps, filters, chemical feeds, heaters and piping.

What are the main types of pools, and what are some characteristics of them?
There are seven main types of pools:

  1. Swimming pool: Water is 3 feet to 5 feet deep
  2. Diving pool: Used exclusively for diving; water is 12 feet or deeper
  3. Swimming/diving pool:  Water is 3 feet to 12 ft deep usually with diving or swimming lanes
  4. Wading pool: Water is 0-18 inches deep; safe for small children
  5. Plunge pool: Usually at the bottom of a waterslide; water circulates more, causing chemicals to evaporate more quickly
  6. Spa: High water temperature; not a lot of volume; great demand on chemicals
  7. Therapy pool: Used for physical therapy; water temperature may be warmer

What kinds of swimming facilities are regulated by the Health Department?Boy in swimming pool
According to Kentucky law, a public swimming facility is “any natural or artificial body of water which is modified, improved, constructed or installed for the purpose of swimming or bathing under the control of any person…”

This includes:

Pools at private homes are not regulated, as long as only the owner and guests use them.

Pools at child care facilities are not allowed unless they are inspected by the Health Department and meet all public swimming regulations.

How often are pools inspected?
The Health Department fully inspects indoor pools, which are open continuously, twice a year.  Outdoor pools are fully inspected twice during the season that they are open.

Indoor and outdoor pools are also monitored once a month for chemical levels and to make sure they are following proper operating procedures.
 
Pools may be inspected more often, based on problems or complaints.

What do the pool inspectors look for?
Pool operators are required to keep a record of their water testing results. Water testing is required three times per day. Chlorine, pH, and temperature (if the pool is heated) are monitored during testing.  Alkalinity is tested once a week.

Inspectors also check the pools’ maintenance records. For example, when was the last time that the pool was backwashed (a procedure that cleans out the filters)? They check the filters, pumps and other machinery to make sure that it is installed and working properly.

Inspectors look for turbidity and water clarity. You should always be able to see openings on the main drain at the bottom of the pool.
 
Finally, inspectors check first aid kits, safety equipment, and emergency phone availability.

Presentation: Public Swimming and Bathing Facilities Operators Guide

When can a pool be closed by the Health Department?
According to Kentucky law, a pool can be closed by the Health Department when:

More details for pool operation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is the ideal level of chlorine for a pool?
Ideally, chlorine should measure between 1 to 2.5 parts per million, and be no greater than 3 parts per million. If a pool has a chlorine level below 1 part per million, it must be closed until levels return to 3 parts per million.  Samples of water from 8-10 inches below the surface give the most accurate chlorine readings.

How often must pool water re-circulate?

Exception: Pools built prior to 1987 that can maintain correct water quality may have a turn over rate of 8 hours or less.

What is the ideal water temperature for an indoor pool?
The water temperature at an indoor pool may not be less than 76 degrees Fahrenheit and not be more than 84 degrees Fahrenheit.  Water temperature in a spa may not be above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

What illnesses or injuries should keep me from going to a public swimming pool?
Admission to pool facility should be refused to all persons having any contagious disease or infectious conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, colds, fever, ringworm, foot infections, skin lesions, carbuncles, boils, inflamed eyes, ear discharges or any other condition which has the appearance of being infectious.

I have a small child. What are some guidelines for wearing diapers in a public pool?
All children who are not toilet trained should wear diapers along with plastic pants (tight fitting at waist and legs).  The Health Department recommends that children who are not toilet trained not use public swimming facilities.

Where can I get more information on pool regulations?

Presentation: Public Swimming and Bathing Facilities Operators Guide

For the complete regulations on pools in Kentucky, go to the Kentucky Department of Public Health’s Web site

For more information on illnesses in swimming pools, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swimming page

For more information on the Health Department’s pool inspection process, please call 859.341.4151.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention