The Consumer Product Safety Commission is sticking to the Dec. 19, 2008, deadline for commercial pools to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

By that date, all main drain covers sold must meet specified performance standards, and all commercial pools, wading pools, spas and hot tubs must be outfitted with approved devices.

Single main drain pools must have one of the qualifying entrapment-prevention options outlined, including suction-limiting vent systems, gravity drainage systems and/or safety vacuum release systems.

To qualify as a multiple main-drain system, all pumps must have two or more drains, set at least 3 feet apart on center.

So-called ?unblockable drains? measuring at least 18-by-23 inches can stand alone, but still must be certified for UV testing; maximum flow; strength testing; and hair, limb and finger entrapment.

?It?s surprising how many people [believe] if the cover is larger than 18-by-23, they don?t need to be certified to meet any part of the standard,? said Larry Benz, national sales manager at Lawson Aquatics in Naples, Fla.

Pools not operating on the deadline date, such as those that close for winter, need not comply until they reopen.

Noncompliant operators face penalties of up to $1.8 million, and ?willful violations? could result in criminal penalties, including fines or imprisonment.

For more information on the law, register for the Aquatics International Webinar on Oct. 22. The one-hour online offering will feature experts, including a CPSC representative.