New federal pool-safety law might force some pools to close

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New federal pool-safety law might force some pools to close - A new federal pool-safety standard has apartment, condo and public pool owners scrambling to finish costly drain modifications so they won't have to close for the summer.

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PHOENIX -- A new federal pool-safety standard has apartment, condo and public pool owners scrambling to finish costly drain modifications so they won't have to close for the summer.

The new law, which mandates that all pool drains be outfitted with special covers, went into effect back in December. The drain covers are designed to keep the filter's suction from holding swimmers under water.

While temperatures have hit the triple digits, many pools the Phoenix Metro area remain closed because the drains are not yet in compliance with the new law.

"The pools are shut down, been shut down since December," Mike Clark said. "It's 102 degrees out here and it would be nice to cool down, but apparently we're not."

The county says it's backlogged with pool owners who are trying to get the necessary permits to complete the modifications. Those permits cost up to $250.

In addition to permit delays, parts to do the work can be difficult to find.

The renovation costs are significant in most cases, often thousands of dollars, as are penalties and potential legal consequences of failure to comply.

Many homeowners' associations that do not have the money to bring their pools into compliance are simply closing them.

While some 9,000 pools -- mostly at apartment and condo complexes -- are affected by the new law, private backyard swimming pools at single-family homes are exempt.

The new law, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. The 7-year-old drowned in a spa in 2002. The suction from the drain held her under water.

According to those who support the act, at least 36 children have died over the last 20 years and nearly 150 more have been hurt after suction from a pool or hot-tub drained trapped them under water.