An uptick in sales of drain covers and suction vacuum release systems (SVRS’s) indicates increasing awareness of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act among pool operators.
But there’s still a long way to go.
Across the board, suppliers say there hasn’t been nearly
enough product sold to bring the nation’s approximately
300,000 public pools into compliance. It’s not clear how many
units are needed to make this happen, but experts estimate that
only 5- to 20 percent are up to speed.
“We sold tens of thousands of [safety vacuum release] valves
in the past 12 months,” said Paul Pennington, president of
in Santa Rosa, Calif. “But it certainly is nothing compared
to what’s out there.”
As of Dec. 19, 2008, all public pools were required to have
VGB-compliant drain covers and either dual-drain systems or
single-drain backups, such as SVRS’s, suction-limiting vents
or other devices meant to
prevent vacuums from forming.
Orders for these products increased slowly in early autumn as the
deadline approached. As expected, sales rose dramatically in
December and have continued to strengthen.
“It seems they’ve picked up since the deadline,”
said Patti Kirsch, vice president of sales and marketing at
Plasticsin Oxnard, Calif. “Maybe it’s because of
trade shows, word-of-mouth and inspectors out there getting to know
Many believe the boost in numbers stems from increased awareness of
the law caused by coverage in trade magazines and industry events,
as well as high-profile reports about the law that appeared in the
“When the deadline came for VGB, I don’t believe the
people were educated enough to know the law was going to be
enforced and how it applied to them,” said Bruce Porter,
director of marketing communications at manufacturer Hayward Pool
Products in Elizabeth, N.J. “Now that they understand the
implications, it has changed. The phones have been ringing [with
people asking] how they can become compliant.”
Any pools closed for winter have until they open to comply. For
this reason, suppliers anticipate high demand through Memorial
Last fall, public-pool operators had difficulty obtaining the
necessary products for their pools. Some drain covers weren’t
deemed compliant until November 2008 or later. Now manufacturers
report that they’re able to keep up with demand, for the most
part by working overtime.
“Everybody is working seven days a week getting ready for
what they think is going to be a bigger number,” said Anthony
Sirianni, co-founder and president of Stingl Products,
LLC, in Sterling, Va.