VGB enforcement and education

Barrett KilmerA year ago, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act was just over a half year old, having gone into effect the previous December. We all remember the industry's mad dash to come into compliance with the law, with drain cover manufacturers scrambling to get their covers approved, public pool operators looking for up-to-date lists of approved covers and contractors to install them, and everyone confused about just who'd be doing the inspections, leveling fines and padlocking pools.

The prospect of pools being forced to close sent shivers down the spines of safety advocates, including the CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D.

"Even though we fully support the goal of the Act, forcing public pools and spas to close has unexpected and undesirable consequence," Lachocki said at the time. Chief among these consequences was decreased access to swim lessons, a far greater threat to swimmer safety than an epidemic of unapproved drains.

I recently asked Lachocki about whether he'd heard of pools being forced to close this season.

"There were some pretty substantial closures in some areas last year, such as in Massachusetts, but I haven't heard about a lot of inspections lately."

Instead, according to Lachocki, the CPSC's focus is turning to another of the Act's provisions - education.

"One thing we should never forget is that 27 states have no verifiable training requirement for people who are operating and managing public pools," he explains. "So who's telling them about VGB? They're kind of off the grid and living in their own little worlds. So having the education and training is just so fundamental in reaching those operators. It was built into the law, it's been long in coming, and we should be very happy that it's coming."

AQUA stands with Lachocki in support of this new tack. As important as enforcement is, a well-funded and broad effort to educate will likely have a more positive affect on the overall safety of public pools in the United States.


Barrett Kilmer
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