Spa pool own­ers wel­come rule changes

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

A pro­posed law change that could re­lax the rules around spa pool fenc­ing is be­ing wel­comed by some own­ers.

Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Min­is­ter Mau­rice Wil­liamson re­cently an­nounced changes to the 1987 Fenc­ing of Swim­ming Pools Act which, if passed this year, should save more lives while ‘‘strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween child safety and com­pli­ance costs’’.

The main changes will be clearer re­quire­ments for re­strict­ing ac­cess to swim­ming pools and re­quire­ments for coun­cils to in­spect them.

The re­prieve for spa own­ers is that they would no longer need to fence their above-ground por­ta­ble tub if it has a lock­able lid.

It’s es­ti­mated it would cost $350 mil­lion to en­sure all spas in New Zealand are fenced and would do lit­tle to re­duce the risk of drown­ing, a re­port by the Depart­ment of Build­ing and Hous­ing says.

Only nine chil­dren have drowned in spa pools in the last 20 years and al­most none in the last decade, the re­port says.

The cur­rent law al­lows Auck­land spa own­ers to ap­ply to their lo­cal board for an ex­emp­tion from fenc­ing if their spa has a lock­able lid and meets cer­tain cri­te­ria.

The cost of the ap­pli­ca­tion is $435 and only 65 spas in the cen­tral Auck­land area have the ex­emp­tion.

Ep­som res­i­dent Paul McCann has both a por­ta­ble spa and a swim­ming pool. He is in the process of get­ting an ex­emp­tion for his spa.

‘‘Re­ally the pool is the un­safest part and it’s meet­ing all the stan­dards. Any­one want­ing to get in could climb the fence. The spa has a lock­able cover.’’

He says the process of get­ting the ex­emp­tion has been a has­sle and he is now con­sid­er­ing get­ting rid of the spa.

He wasn’t fully aware of the fenc­ing re­quire­ments when he pur­chased it. ‘‘They guy sell­ing it to us said all we needed was a lock­able lid and it was un­der a cer­tain depth so we should be fine.’’

The new law will re­quire those sell­ing spa pools to make cus­tomers aware of the safety reg­u­la­tions.

It will also re­quire coun­cils to in­spect swim­ming pools at least once ev­ery five years. They’ll no longer have to rou­tinely in­spect spa pools that meet stan­dards.

Auck­land Coun­cil will be ahead of the game. It al­ready aims to in­spect the 2492 reg­is­tered spas and 6887 pools in the cen­tral Auck­land area once ev­ery three years, build­ing WOF man­ager Wolf­gang Nethe says.

The max­i­mum court fine for not com­ply­ing with the cur­rent law is $500.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately coun­cil has to pros­e­cute pool own­ers for non­com­pli­ance with the law on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,’’ Mr Nethe says.

Another pro­posed change is that por­ta­ble pools with more than 30cm of wa­ter will need to be fenced. Cur­rently only por­ta­ble pools deeper than 40cm needed to be fenced.

Mr Wil­liamson says some re­ports which sug­gest pad­dling pools would need to be fenced are in­ac­cu­rate.

‘‘What we’re say­ing is if there’s a pool that you’re go­ing to per­ma­nently leave up, then that needs to be fenced.’’

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Thumbs up: Spa owner Paul McCann would be happy to see a change to the rules about fenc­ing spa pools.

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