Every residential property with a swimming pool must have physical barriers to restrict young children from accessing the pool. Drowning occurs silently and can take less than a minute.
It is not always practical to watch young children constantly without even a moment’s distraction. This is why Central Government has concluded that all residential pools (including small heated pools such as spa pools or hot tubs) must have physical barriers. The legislation applies to all residential properties with swimming pools regardless of whether or not children currently reside there.
Recent statutory changes brought in a requirement for tri-annual Council inspections to be undertaken and Council is ramping up the pool inspection program.
We recognise that the change in legislation creates extra requirements on pool owners and as such our first inspection will be free providing that our allocated inspection time/date is followed. Requests to alter the free inspection time/date will incur the published swimming pool inspection fee of $120.00 (through to 30 June and thereafter subject to annual plan fee changes). Properties with pools will be sent an inspection notification letter informing occupants of the inspection date and an approximate inspection time. Officers legally warranted to enter land will undertake inspections on the allocated day. Please note that every pool is different and as such, and even with the best care and exercise, the exact inspection times cannot be defined as we may experience delays through the day.
- The owner of the pool
- The pool operator (a pool operator is a person who operates and maintains a pool on a day-to-day basis)
- The owner of the land
- The occupier of the property
- The purchaser of the pool
- The lessee of the pool
- The lessee of the premises
The persons mentioned as responsible for ensuring compliance, are required by law:
- to notify Council of their intention to construct or install a pool before the construction or installation commences;
- to notify Council of the existence of the pool;
- to provide adequate physical barriers for the pool;
- to keep the pool empty of water at all times until Council is satisfied that the physical barriers comply with the Building Act 2004.
- A building consent is required prior to constructing physical barriers around a pool area (e.g. pool fencing).
- Depending on the type of pool a building consent may also required for; the construction of the pool and, any permanent drainage connections.
Pool manufacturers and retailers
Manufacturers and retailers offering to sale pools in New Zealand are required by law to ensure to supply with the pool a notice explaining the responsibilities of owners, pool operators, and occupiers.
Pool inspections can be carried out by Councils or by independently qualified pool inspectors administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Booking a pool inspection by a Council Officer may be made by telephone on (04) 527 2169.
To book a pool inspection by an independently qualified pool inspector, please refer to the ‘pool inspector public register’ administered by MBIE.
Physical barriers must enclose only the ‘immediate’ pool area: the pool itself, and a confined area around the pool in which occur activities closely connected, associated or combined with the use of the pool.
Activities not closely connected, associated or combined with the use of the pool are required to be kept outside the pool area (activities such as vegetable gardens, clotheslines, children play areas, and amenities).
Physical barriers, including gates/doors and windows opening on the pool area, must comply with the requirements of the Building Code that are in force, or that were in force when the barrier was erected.
- The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment publish acceptable solutions (F9/AS1 and F9/AS2) for Compliance with Building Code Clause F9—Means of restricting access to residential pools.
- The fencing of a residential pool in accordance with the specifications of the [repealed] Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 was an acceptable method for establishing compliance with the Building Code prior to the implementation Building Code Clause F9.
A boundary fence may act as a physical barrier restricting the access to a residential pool provided it complies with the pool safety provisions enacted by the Building Act 2004. If the boundary fence does not comply with these rules, two options are available:
- coming to an agreement with the neighbour(s) to make the fence comply; OR
- building a new physical barrier at least 1.2m clear of the boundary fence.
Walls of a Building
The walls of a building may act as a physical barrier provided they efficiently restrict the access to a residential pool by unsupervised young children (ie, under five years of age). If the walls have doors or windows, rules apply about how these lock and operate.
Children are inquisitive, and water especially excites their curiosity. Given the chance, they will find ways to defeat physical barriers. That means that the people in charge of a pool must:
- always keep the cover locked on small heated pools; AND
- always be on the alert for nearby objects such as sets, compost bins, stacks of firewood, even movable objects such as wheelbarrows, that could be used to climb over a pool barrier; AND
- always be on alert for overhanging tree limbs that could be used to get over a pool barrier.
Filling and emptying a pool
Council requires a backflow prevention device to be fitted to whatever means is used to fill the pool, generally just a hose tap, to stop contamination of the water supply. For hose-filled pools, the most common device is a hose connection vacuum breaker. It fits between the tap and the hose. Pool water must be drained into an outlet (sewer, not stormwater).
- Contamination can happen if there is a drop in mains water pressure and pool water, which contains chemicals, is sucked into the mains supply.
- Hose connection vacuum breakers can be bought at hardware stores and plumbing outlets.