California’s legislature has passed a highly anticipated bill to address the Pool and Spa Safety Act, and is moving forward on other legislation likely to impact the aquatics industry.

AB 1020 addresses the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. It states that all public pools built on or after Jan. 1, 2010, must have two drains per pump, installed as specified. Existing public pools must be brought into compliance by July 1, 2010.

It is hoped that the law, if signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will reduce the confusion caused by officials interpreting VGB differently. Some inspectors were demanding that new products be installed on already compliant pools. Others said they couldn’t enforce the federal law without a state mandate to do so.

“I think having the bill in place will give them something firm and concise to work with,” said Mike Geremia, president of SPEC, the lobbying organization for California’s aquatics industry.

Pools with single-drains that are not unblockable must be outfitted with one of the following to protect against entrapment: a safety vacuum release system; suction-limiting vent system with tamper-resistant atmospheric opening; gravity-drainage system with collector tank; automatic pump shut-off system; or another system deemed equally or more effective, in accordance with federal law. All must meet standards specified in the state bill.

Public pools brought into compliance with VGB between Dec. 19, 2007, and Jan. 1, 2010, will not require further work — nor will public wading pools built before Jan. 1, 2010, that complied with the California Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Public pool owners also must complete and file paperwork with their local departments of environmental health. The signed forms will contain the license number of the qualified professional certifying that the information is true “to the best of his or her knowledge” — a condition requested by SPEC.

“We’re more than happy to certify as to what we know we did,” SPEC spokesman Peter Conlin said. “We just don’t want to certify as to what anybody else did.”

While drain covers are not specifically named in the bill, the language does state that public pools must comply with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 as it reads on Dec. 31, 2009, which includes compliant drain covers.

The governor had until Oct. 3 to sign AB 1020 and as of press time, SPEC expected the bill to become law.

Additionally, as of press time a special session of the California Legislature was pending in which legislature was set to consider a recommendation by the Commission on the 21st Century Economy — created last year to reengineer the state’s tax system. According to SPEC, the Commission recommends legislators scrap the state’s dependence on sales tax and personal income taxes, and replace it with a broader tax on all business similar to the value-added tax used in many European countries. 

“This means pool service professionals, builders, contractors, subcontractors and all other professionals rendering service in this state would be included,” said John Norwood, president of SPEC.