Swimming Pools and Spas
Swimming pool fencing and safety requirements
Unfortunately, drowning is the leading cause of deaths in Queensland children aged between one and four. As well as supervising children and teaching them to swim, safe pool fencing is critical in keeping our children safe.
A swimming pool is defined as an above or belowground structure principally used for swimming or bathing, including some models of portable pools and spas.
If your portable pool or spa can hold more than 300mm of water, then the laws apply to you. The pool laws don't apply to fishponds, however, if you have a swimming pool that is now being used for another purpose (e.g., as a fishpond), it is still considered a pool and must have a compliant barrier.
For information on pool safety, visit the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s (QBCC) pool safety webpage. The QBCC also administers the pool register (all pools must be registered) and details of pool safety inspectors.
Unsafe pool fencing
Council does not employ licensed pool safety inspectors or provide pool safety certificates. However, Council does have a role in ensuring that pool fences are compliant. If you have concerns about a pool fence, contact the Customer Service Centre on 13 48 10. Queensland Government legislation allows Councils to issue on-the-spot fines for non-compliant pool fencing.
Exemptions for safe pool fencing requirements
Property owners can apply under the Building Act for an exemption from swimming pool fencing rules for disability or impracticality reasons. However, it is important to know that Council will give consideration to the safety of young children before an exemption is granted.
Legislation for pool fences
The legal requirements for enforcing safe pool fencing include the:
- Queensland Development Code (QDC) MP 3.4 Swimming pool barriers
- Building Act 1975
- Building Regulation 2006
- Australian Standard 1926 Swimming pool safety.
Discharge of swimming pool water
Read Council's full policy (PDF) on the management of pool water from residential properties.
Pool filter backwash water must be:
- discharged to a grassed, vegetated or garden area, or a stone-filled trench. Any surface run-off resulting from the discharge should be contained within the property boundaries; or
- discharged into the sewer via the overflow relief gully.
Note: This advice is only for residential pools. Commercial pools need a trade waste approval to discharge to sewer.
To ease the burden on the sewer network during wet weather events, do not undertake filter backwashing until 48 hours after the start of a wet weather event.
Pool overflow water from rain events should be directed onto landscape areas which are mulched or vegetated with chlorine-tolerant plants (or salt-tolerant plans if a salt water pool). If this is not possible, pool overflow water may be permitted to drain to the stormwater drainage system, provided the chlorine levels are negligible and the discharge does not cause insect breeding conditions or odours through ponding of water.
If emptying your pool, we prefer the maintenance water to be discharged to the property in a manner that will prevent environmental harm (such as creation of odours and breeding conditions for insects when water ponds for long periods). If this is option is not available, council approves of the discharge of pool maintenance drainage water into Council’s sewerage network provided that:
- the water is clean (e.g. no algal growth)
- chlorine concentration is below 5 mg/L
- the discharge occurs at least 48 hours after a wet weather event
- a flow restriction device is used to reduce discharge rate to less than 40 litres per minute.
Pool maintenance drainage water may also be released to a storm water drain, provided chlorine levels have been reduced to below 0.1 mg/L and the discharge does not cause environmental harm, such as insect breeding conditions or odours through ponding of water.
Swimming pools and spas – are you breeding dengue mosquitoes?
Neglected or poorly maintained swimming pools and spa pools are an ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed. When the pool’s chemical parameters are not maintained at the minimum required levels and/or the filtration system is not functioning correctly, the pool becomes a public health risk.
As mosquitoes require standing water to breed, the pool water becomes an attractive water source for the female mosquito to lay her eggs. Once these eggs hatch, the larvae can develop into biting adult mosquitoes within 4-7 days.
It is your responsibility as a tenant or property owner to maintain the pool so that it is not a breeding site for mosquitoes, or likely to become a breeding site for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can carry several different mosquito borne diseases, in particular dengue fever.
How to prevent mosquitoes breeding in your pool
The most important things that residents can do to prevent mosquitoes breeding in the pool is to:
- maintain the pool’s water level
- clean the pool regularly
- maintain the minimum chemical criteria
- operate the filtration system regularly as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
This will also minimise algal growth and any build-up of bacteria.
Guidance and information can be obtained from any competent pool maintenance technician and/or you may refer to the Queensland Health Water Quality Guidelines for Public Aquatic Facilities. Although these guidelines are intended for publicly used pools, they also provide useful information for private (domestic) swimming and spa pool users.
It is a requirement under the Public Health Regulation 2005 that the resident of a place (or the owner if unoccupied) prevent their swimming pool or spa from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If a swimming pool or spa becomes a public health risk, Council can issue a public health order to the occupant or property owner. On-the-spot penalties apply if the public health order is not complied with. These fines may be thousands of dollars.