After months of debate and public input, the Consumer
Product Safety Commission has finalized three previously
unresolved aspects of the VGB Act. Last month, the agency
established clear definitions of an unblockable drain, took
action regarding further defining a commercial pool, and
clarified model language for potential state laws.
In one of the most contentious issues, CPSC
commissioners finalized the definition of an unblockable
drain and, by a vote of 3-2, ruled that unblockable drains
can stand alone and don’t need a second drain or
backup device. The commissioners also decided that a drain
may be defined as unblockable even if the sump is smaller,
so long as it has an adequately sized cover and meets all
To qualify as unblockable, a drain must be large enough
so that its open area is not blocked by the 18-by-23-inch
element used in testing. Furthermore, flow around the
blocking element must fall within a given value. All covers
must meet the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 - 2007 standard.
“This will make more options — and
more cost-effective options — available to
manufacturers, builders, owners and operators.
...” said Carvin DiGiovanni, senior director,
technical and standards, for the Association of Pool
& Spa Professionals.
CPSC also has moved to clarify vague terms defining a
public pool. In part, the VGBA defines a public pool or spa
as one at “a hotel or other public accommodations
Commissioners approved the following language: "Public
accomodations facility means an inn, hotel, motel or other
place of lodging, except for an establishment located
within a building that contains not more than five rooms
for rent or hire and that is actually occupied by the
proprietor of such establishment as the residence of such
proprietor" This exempts bed and breakfast inns from VGB's
The language has been entered into the Federal Register
for public comments, which will be accepted until April
Additionally, model language, released March 3, spells
out baseline conditions for the state grants specified in
The model language states that regardless of the drain
system, all vessels must have some kind of entrapment
protection and, where applicable, VGB-approved covers.
There is no specific requirement for a safety vacuum
release system or other such device, but within a year
after enactment of a state law, all new pools and spas must
be built with multiple drains, unblockable drains or the
newer “no drain” systems.
However, this doesn’t preclude states from
requiring secondary devices. States can pass more stringent
language if it’s consistent with two CPSC pool and
spa safety publications: Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home
Pools and Guidelines for Entrapment Hazards: Making Pools
and Spas Safer.