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Public swimming pools and spa pools

The South Australian Public Health (General) Regulations 2013 and the Standard for the Operation of Swimming Pools and Spa Pools in South Australia prescribe a number of specific requirements for owners and operators of public pools to ensure that water quality within a public pool is of a standard that protects public health.

Definitions

Public pools includes pools for use:

  • by persons on payment of an admission or membership fee
  • in association with temporary accommodation (for example a hotel, motel or caravan park)
  • by persons who attend, live or work on the premises where the pool is located, excluding pools associated with a single private residence that are only made available for the use of the residents and their guests.

Occupier, in relation to premises, means a person who has, or is entitled to, possession or control of the premises and includes a person who is in charge of the premises (for instance the pool manager).

Visitors to a public pool

There is legislation in South Australia that prescribes requirements for owners, operators and users of public pools to protect public health. By following a few simple steps, you can help pool operators keep the water safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.

Diarrhoea and swimming don’t mix

People with diarrhoea should not use a swimming pool until two weeks after the diarrhoea stops.

  • Cryptosporidium (Crypto) is a parasite that causes diarrhoea and is spread from an infected person through faeces and can make other people very sick
  • people can spread Crypto while they have diarrhoea and for two weeks after the diarrhoea stops
  • crypto is not killed by normal levels of swimming pool disinfection
  • crypto can be spread by infected people in swimming pools.

Babies and young children

Children should not be allowed to swim if they have had diarrhoea in the last two weeks.

  • children who are not toilet trained should wear tight fitting, waterproof pants or swim nappies when in the pool
  • always change nappies in a bathroom or on a change table, never poolside or on tables designed for eating
  • always wash your hands thoroughly after changing a nappy
  • if young children do have an accident in the pool, report it immediately so that appropriate action can be taken to treat the water.

Pool owners and operators responsibilities

If a swimming pool, spa pool (including filled display spa pools), wading pool, hydrotherapy pool or waterslide is available for use by the public, the owner or occupier of the premises must ensure that the pool is under the care, control and management of a person with appropriate knowledge and experience in matters relating to the care, control and management of public pools.

While a pool is available for use by the public it is the responsibility of the owner and the pool operator to ensure pool water quality is maintained in accordance with the requirements of the General Regulations.

The following documents have been developed to assist pool owners and operators ensure they are complying with regulations:

Operating public swimming pools and spa pools

The Standard for the Operation of Swimming Pools and Spa Pools in South Australia (PDF 177KB) was developed to assist local councils in the administration of the legislation relating to public swimming pools, spa pools, waterslides and hydrotherapy pools.

The Standard was prepared to address the issue of water quality in relation to the operation of public swimming pools and spa pools. It details the measures necessary to ensure that water quality within a public pool is of a standard that protects public health. 

It describes in detail the disinfection of pool water with reference to other important parameters such as pH, water clarity and total alkalinity, which must be maintained in balance as part of the total water treatment process. 

Other areas covered by the Standard include an explanation of the chemistry of the disinfection processes, pool water pollutants and potential health effects as a consequence of inadequate pool water treatment. 

This Standard informs agencies responsible for the administration of the General Regulations and operators of public swimming pools and spa pools.

Inspecting and maintaining swimming pools and spa pools

The Guideline for the Inspection and Maintenance of Swimming Pools and Spa Pools in South Australia (PDF 176KB) assists relevant authorities, pool owners, pool operators and the pool industry to maintain satisfactory public swimming pool and spa pool management standards.

It specifically deals with water quality management aspects such as circulation and filtration, automatic disinfection, pH analysis and control equipment, water testing procedures, water replacement and chemical balance of pool water.

Other matters covered include pool structure, pool surrounds, amenities, ventilation, safety and chemical storage.

The Guideline sets the inspection and routine maintenance requirements of pool plant, equipment and surrounds to ensure pool water quality is maintained as prescribed by the General Regulations and includes a comprehensive inspection checklist.

Managing faecal release incidents

Faecal matter can contain harmful bacteria, viruses and micro-organisms. Some faecal micro-organisms are resistant to chlorine so special care must be taken when responding to a faecal release incident. The Faecal release incidents – public pool response strategies (PDF 127KB) fact sheet has been developed to assist pool operators to appropriately respond to faecal contamination of public swimming and spa pools.

Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium infection is a gastrointestinal infection caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium is highly infectious and must be taken in by the mouth to cause infection. Cryptosporidium can be associated with swimming pools and spa pools because it can be introduced into the water by infected swimmers. The Minimising the risk of cryptosporidiosis in public swimming pools and spa pools - for pool operators (PDF 544KB) fact sheet has been developed to assist pool operators. This fact sheet includes:

  • understanding Cryptosporidium
  • operation and maintenance procedures to minimise the risk of Cryptosporidium
  • incident response, including precautionary decontamination procedures
  • decontamination recording templates

Posters and corflute signs (PDF 50KB) are available to public swimming pool operators at no charge upon request. 

Further information

For further information on the management of public pools, contact SA Health's Health Protection Programs on (08) 8226 7100 or email healthprotectionprograms@health.sa.gov.au.

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