In The News: September 2007

New York Pool Legislation Signed Into Law

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer recently signed a bill into law that requires state and local regulations governing pool installations be posted at the point of sale. The Department of State will also be required to establish a Web site providing the same information.

The law takes effect Oct. 1, 2007, and it applies to all pools purchased after that time.

Temporary swimming pools are gaining popularity — they can be had for as little as $150 — “however, many families don’t know that New York state law requires a 48-inch permanent barrier around all swimming pools that are more than 2-feet deep,” Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, stated in a press release. Currently, state law only requires sellers and installers of swimming pools to notify consumers about the additional costs that could be incurred. However, the new law requires retailers of temporary and permanent pools to provide notice to consumers about the barrier requirements outlined in the New York State codes, as well as municipal codes and regulations that apply. DelMonte told the Union-Sun & Journal the purpose of the legislation is not only to provide notice about the barrier requirements, but also to forewarn customers about the additional costs associated with the required barriers.

“Unsuspecting families are being hit with fines for violating the law, and even worse, their children are being put at risk,” said DelMonte.

Maytronics, SmartPool End Distribution Agreement

Maytronics Ltd., manufacturer of the Dolphin line of robotic pool cleaners, and SmartPool, U.S. distributor of Dolphin, announced the end of their five-year, reciprocal distribution agreement, effective Nov. 1.

SmartPool, Lakewood, N.J., will pursue its own line of robotic pool cleaners and take over European distribution and marketing of its existing products. “We are able now to go to Europe and sell our goods,” said SmartPool president Richard Holstein. “Europe is a very large robotic cleaner market, much larger than the U.S.”

Israel-based Maytronics will open a United States subsidiary based in Atlanta. The subsidiary, Maytronics USA, will market the Dolphin line and pursue expansion into new high-tech segments such as water treatment, according to a company press release.

“Historically, Maytronics has worked through a distributor in each country. Our business here in the U.S. is growing at a rate where we wanted to invest here,” says Randy Hitchens, newly appointed president and CEO of Maytronics USA. SmartPool manufactures and distributes aftermarket swimming pool products for in-ground and aboveground pools including robotic pool cleaners, solar pool heating systems, saltwater chlorination systems, lighting and alarms.

“It’s a cordial parting between the two companies,” said Holstein. A joint press release said, “Maytronics and SmartPool have been excellent partners for many years and will continue to be close associates.”

Safety Bills Progress Through House And Senate

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has overcome major hurdles and is on its way to becoming law. The act provides incentives to states that adopt the safety standards codified in the bill.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved S. 1771 on July 19. The U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection also unanimously approved H.R. 1721, on July 31. The bill now waits approval by the full Senate and House.

At the urging of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the House bill was modified to conform to the Senate bill in regards to the suction entrapment avoidance language.

The barrier language in H.R. 1721 is consistent with the provisions contained in the ANSI/APSP-8 Model Barrier Code. When originally introduced, the bill did not allow for lockable covers to serve as a protective barrier for portable hot tubs. However, lockable covers are now recognized as acceptable safety barriers for hot tubs, mirroring an S. 1771 provision.

“[S. 1771] provisions are totally consistent with the new ANSI/APSP-7 American National Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance,” says Bill Weber, president of APSP. “If adhered to, the new standard will eliminate all future risk of suction entrapment.” The House is expected to take up the legislation in early September. It is not yet known when the Senate will do so.

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