Public pools and spas

Pools and spas

On 29 April 2016, new laws were introduced by the NSW Government applying to the sale and lease of properties with a swimming pool or spa pool in NSW. These laws have an impact on anyone who is buying, selling or leasing a property with a swimming pool or spa pool. These changes were introduced to further ensure the safety of children under the age of five around backyard swimming pools.

If you’re unsure about whether these laws apply to your ‘swimming pool’, it may be helpful to know that the definition of a swimming pool is an excavation, structure or vessel that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres.

Pool structures that fall within this category include:

  • above-ground pools and spas
  • inflatable swimming pools
  • concrete and fibreglass swimming pools
  • temporary or wading pools.

Below you will find useful information about the requirements and responsibilities of owning a pool in NSW, such as pool registrations and inspections, and pool safety and barrier design requirements.

Pool barriers

Pool safety barrier design requirements

Supervision is the key to preventing drowning deaths or injury to young children.

Under the Swimming Pools Act 1992, the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is, at all times, surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool fence or safety barrier.

You can read all about the basic pool safety barrier design requirements within Eurobodalla Shire:

Pool safety requirements

Swimming pool laws and fencing/gate requirements

Council administers the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 in Eurobodalla Shire. In this regard, Council must:

  • implement a swimming pool barrier inspection program designed with the aim of ensuring that swimming pools are protected by a child proof barrier designed to meet Australian Standard requirements
  • ensure it is notified of all swimming pools in Eurobodalla Shire
  • conduct investigations in relation to safety concerns and complaints.

Any pool structure that has the ability of being filled with 300mm of water or more, and is used for swimming and other water activities, must be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register at NSW Pool Register.

Pool structures that fall within this category include:

  • above-ground pools and spas
  • inflatable swimming pools
  • concrete and fibreglass swimming pools
  • temporary or wading pools.

Safety self-assessment checklists

The NSW Swimming Pool Register also contains helpful safety checklists at:

These self-assessment checklists are designed to provide you with an indication about whether or not your pool or spa barrier meets the safety standards in New South Wales.

Fences and gates

Pools must be surrounded, at all times, by a child-resistant barrier that separates the swimming pool from any residential building on the premises and from any place (whether public or private) adjoining the premises.

Any pool barrier or gate must be maintained in a good state of repair as an effective and safe child-resistant barrier.

For diagrams showing the required measurements of pool fencing, and other NSW pool safety criteria, refer to the Pool safety booklet, which was compiled on behalf of 12 NSW councils.

You can also read information about the measurements and requirements of pool barriers to ensure that they meet NSW safety standards:

Pool boundary fence

Where a boundary fence is used as a barrier restricting access to a pool, it should be a minimum of 1800mm (height measured from inside the pool area).

Internal fence and gate

Gates and pool fencing should be a minimum height of 1.2m above ground level (height measured from outside the pool area).

Costs for a dividing fence

All expenses associated with constructing, repairing, altering, replacing or maintaining a dividing fence that is used as a pool barrier is at the cost of the pool owner.

In the event that a pool is situated on more than one property that shares a dividing fence used as a pool barrier, the cost of the fence should be shared equally by each pool owner.

You can read further information about how the expenses of constructing dividing fences are apportioned:

Gaps

Any gaps in your pool fence or gate must be no greater than 100mm.

Gates

Gates are one of the most common failure for children to obtain access to a pool.

In this regard:

  • Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times.
  • Gates should be no more than 1m wide – the wider it is, the more weight is applied and this can result in failure of the latching mechanism.
  • The latch release should be positioned a minimum of 1.5m above ground level.
  • Gates are required to open outwards from the pool area.
  • Where the latch release is less than 1.5m above ground level, a shield is to be used with the latch positioned on the pool side, which should be a minimum of 150mm from the top of the gate. The purpose of the shield is that it makes it necessary to reach over the gate to access the latch release mechanism.

Non-climbable zone

To prevent children climbing over a fence into the pool area, the law requires pool owners to make sure they maintain a Non-Climbable Zone (NCZ) around the pool.

The NCZ extends 900mm within, outside and above the fence and gate barrier.

Landscaping, barbeque, pot plants, chairs, steps, decks, retaining walls, associated lighting and any other furniture or fixtures must not be within the 900mm NCZ.

The NCZ is located on the inside (pool side), and extends 900mm from the top and outwards from the barrier, for boundary fences that are used as a barrier.

The NCZ extends 300mm inside the barrier, for barriers with openings greater than 10mm.

Portable, demountable and baby pools

If these pools are capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm, standard barrier rules apply.

For pools that are less than 300mm in height, you should always empty the pool immediately after use and pack it away so that it cannot collect rainwater and pose a risk.

Indoor pools

Access to an indoor pool should comply with the following requirements:

  • Child-resistant windows must be installed, ie, security mesh or grill permanently fixed over the opening of the window.
  • When not in use, doors must be closed at all times to restrict access for children.
  • The requirements for gates and fences mentioned above apply to indoor pools where the indoor area is separated into a pool area and non-pool activity area.

Child-resistant doors have the following requirements:

  • The width of the door must be a minimum of 1m to ensure durability of the self-latching operation.
  • Pet flaps or openings are not permitted within the door.
  • The door must be self-closing and self-latching.
  • A NCZ of 900mm applies to the outside face of the door. The NCZ should be positioned no more than 1200mm above the floor.
  • A glass viewing insert within the door is recommended to allow viewing into the pool area, and for safety purposes when the door is being opened.
  • The door must open outwards from the pool area.
  • The door release must be a manual operation so that a potential power failure does not render the door openable.
  • The door knob/latch release must be a minimum of 1.5m above the floor and must be located on the outside face of the door.
  • The door is required to be a side-hung door forming part of a barrier for an indoor pool.

Any means of access to an indoor pool must always restrict the entry of young children.

Any use within the indoor area of a pool, such as a gym, entertaining etc, is to be separated from the indoor pool component of the area by a suitable child-resistant barrier and gate.

Spa pools

Spa pools are required to be surrounded by a child-resistant barrier, the same as a pool or a child-resistant lid that is secured to the spa can be used, and it is to be kept locked in place when the spa is not in use. However, this does not apply to a spa pool that includes other uses such as a swim spa or plunge pool spa.

Objects near a barrier

In order to maintain the required height of a barrier, steps, retaining wall etc, level changes are to be 500mm from the barrier.

Resuscitation chart

All pools must have a warning notice with a resuscitation chart in a prominent place in the immediate vicinity of the pool (not within any landscaped area and facing the pool). The chart must be legible from 3 metres away and must be well maintained.

Resuscitation charts can be purchased from Council’s customer service centre in Moruya.

Is your pool safety compliant?

You can apply for a pool barrier inspection and Certificate of Compliance:

Before you lodge your application with Council, however, you must have registered your swimming pool or spa pool online and have a valid Certificate of Registration; this will need to be lodged with your Pool Barrier Inspection Application.

Lodge your Pool Barrier Inspection Application with Council in person at the customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please note: ensure you arrive before 4pm so there is sufficient time to thoroughly check and lodge your application. You will also need to pay your application fees at the time of lodgement, or, you can email it to Council.

If you are mailing your application, include payment (inspection fees referred to below) with your application to avoid delay in lodgement. You can mail your application to:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council,
    PO Box 99,
    MORUYA NSW 2537.

Inspection fees

Council will charge a fee of $150.00 (including GST) for an initial pool barrier inspection and $100.00 (including GST) for a reinspection, if required, (which includes the issue of a Certificate of Compliance for complying pool fences). Council will not charge additional fees to conduct subsequent follow-up inspections.

More information

Balcony pool barriers

Balcony balustrade requirements and compliance with Australian Standards

Balcony barrier over a pool area

A balcony barrier is to comply with AS1926.1 requirements where:

  • the distance (h3) from any part of the floor of the balcony to the finished ground level of the pool area is less than 1800mm, or
  • the balcony has stairs into the pool.

AS1926.1-2007 (access to a pool from an upper level) guidelines may assist.

Balcony barriers adjacent to pool area

A balcony must have a balustrade that complies with AS1926.1. These requirements apply where:

  • the balcony has stairs that lead directly to access the pool
  • any part of the balcony floor encroaches the non-climbable zone.

More information

For diagrams showing these measurements and other NSW pool safety criteria, refer to the Pool safety booklet (compiled on behalf of 12 NSW councils).

Retaining walls – fence and gate barrier requirements

Retaining walls or cliffs that are used as part of a pool barrier

Ramps or stairs that provide access to or from the pool are required to be equipped with a fence and gate.

Where the cliff or retaining wall has a height of 1000mm or higher, this height is the minimum the safety fence must be to prevent falls from the cliff or wall.

Barrier below the pool

The following is required, depending on the height of the retaining wall or cliff:

  • The cliff slope or wall should be no greater than 15 degrees.
  • The wall/cliff fence barrier combination should be a wall or cliff and fence in order to achieve the minimum 1200mm high barrier, in addition to a fence on top of the wall, which should be a height for safety and should not cause a trip hazard.

Structures within the pool area

Permitted pool structures

The following structures are permitted, provided these structures are solely associated with pool use:

  • free-standing pergolas, small shade structures, pool furniture, cabanas, etc,
  • sheds that are used to hold pool chemicals, pool filter and filtration equipment, etc.

If you are uncertain about a proposed structure that will be located within your enclosed pool area, please enquire with our Certification Team.

Restrictions and access to pool area

Pools must be separated from all residential buildings, or any structure not solely associated with the pool, eg, detached or attached garage, boat shed, laundry, shed or clothes line.

In this regard, a child-resistant barrier is required to separate a residential building from a pool structure.

Access is not permitted through the pool area to your house from the street, waterfront or other public place. The enclosed pool area is to be accessed for pool use only and not as a means of access to other structures.

Exemptions

Exemptions apply for some existing pools based on the age and location of the pool, however, Council strongly recommends that you upgrade your pool to comply with current safety requirements.

Provided owners ensure the means of access to a pool is, at all times, restricted, exemption status applies to:

  • pools constructed prior to 1 August 1990
  • pools on waterfront properties constructed before 1 July 2010
  • pools on properties having an area less than 230 square metres, constructed before 1 July 2010
  • pools on properties having an area of two hectares or more, and constructed before 1 July 2010.

Pool owners should note that the pool exemption status does not remain for the life of the pool.

Additional types of pool exemption

If you do not meet the above criteria, there are circumstances where you can apply for a pool exemption under Section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

Before applying for a Certificate of Exemption, review Section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

You can apply to Council for a Certificate of Exemption:

You can lodge your Application for a Certificate of Exemption with Council in person at the customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please note: ensure you arrive before 4pm so there is adequate time to thoroughly check and lodge your application. You will also need to pay your application fee at the time of lodgement, or, you can email your application to Council at Eurobodalla Shire Council.

If you are mailing your application, include payment with your application to avoid delay in lodgement. You can mail your application to:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council,
    PO Box 99,
    MORUYA NSW 2537.

More information

Pool registration and inspections required

Registration of swimming pool or spa pool

It is compulsory for all pools to be registered. Swimming pool and spa pool registration is free.

You can register your swimming pool or spa pool online at the NSW Government Swimming Pool Register.

You can also access the NSW Swimming Pools Register self-assessment checklists which will assist with safety questions at the time of registration.

You can also check online to ensure that your pool has been registered.

Alternatively, you can complete the following application form and submit to Council:

Once you have registered your swimming pool or spa pool online (if applicable), you will receive a Certificate of Registration which you can print.

Non-registration of your pool can result in a fine of $220.

Certificate of Compliance

In addition to the pool registration requirements, the amendments to the Swimming Pools Act 1992 by the NSW Government required all councils to adopt a swimming pool barrier inspection program with the aim of ensuring that swimming pools are protected by a child proof barrier designed to meet Australian Standard requirements.

Council’s Building Certifiers can carry out a swimming pool barrier inspection and issue a Certificate of Compliance, if the swimming pool or spa pool meets all the safety requirements.

A Certificate of Compliance is valid for three years from its date of issue. You can check if a Certificate of Compliance has been issued online at the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

Should the pool already have a Certificate of Compliance or a relevant Occupation Certificate that is less than three years old, there is no requirement for the pool to be inspected as part of the inspection program.

Inspection fees

Council will charge a fee of $150.00 (including GST) for an initial pool barrier inspection and $100.00 (including GST) for a reinspection, if required, (which includes the issue of a Certificate of Compliance for complying pool fences). Council will not charge additional fees to conduct subsequent follow-up inspections.

Application form

You can request a pool barrier inspection by completing the following application form and paying the applicable inspection fee:

Before you lodge your application with Council, however, you must have registered your swimming pool or spa pool online and have a valid Certificate of Registration; this will need to be lodged with your Pool Barrier Inspection Application.

Lodge your application with Council in person at the customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please note: ensure you arrive before 4pm so there is sufficient time to thoroughly check and lodge your application. You will also need to pay your application fees at the time of lodgement.

You can also email your application to Council at Eurobodalla Shire Council.

If you are mailing your application, include payment with your application to avoid delay in lodgement. You can mail your application to:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council,
    PO Box 99,
    MORUYA NSW 2537.

Removal of a pool – approval requirements and owner responsibilities

If you required Council approval to construct a pool, you will need Council approval to demolish it. However, if your pool has heritage significance, you should consult Council’s Development Help Desk for advice.

Above-ground pools (including pre-fabricated and inflatable pools)

Provided any of these types of pools do not exceed a depth of 600mm in the ground, and subject to strict removal standards being met, formal approval is generally not required.

Your responsibilities include the following:

  • Dismantle the pool and remove all materials.
  • Ensure you restore the ground level to its natural level and grade.
  • Where filling of the site is required, only clean drainable fill should be used.
  • Filling of the site should be compacted and graded to natural contours to avoid creating drainage issues.
  • Suitable erosion control measures should be put in place to prevent silt run-off into neighbouring properties.

In-ground pools

You are required to obtain Council approval if you propose to demolish an in-ground pool. This includes pools in the ground more than 600mm, and any concrete, fibreglass, masonry or similar pools. For this type of development, you will need to apply for either a Complying Development Certificate or a Development Application.

You can speak with Council’s Development Help Desk for advice on which application applies to your development.

Your responsibilities include the following:

  • The development must be carried out in accordance with AS 2601-2001 – the demolition of structures.
  • The site must be filled so as to restore the site to the existing ground level, taking into account any slope. The fill must be compacted and all piping or similar material is to be removed prior to the pool excavation being filled.
  • A silt fence should be erected to ensure that debris does not escape into the drainage systems, waterways and adjoining properties.
  • Run-off and erosion controls should be put in place to divert uncontaminated run-off around cleared or disturbed areas to prevent water pollution, soil erosion or loose sediment being discharged from the land.
  • Provision of controls to prevent the transfer of sediment by vehicles onto the roads.

Removal of pools that do not require approval

Council will still need to be notified if you are removing a pool that did not require approval so that we can update our records and the NSW Pool Register accordingly.

When notifying Council of your pool removal, please ensure that you provide two photographs, one showing the pool prior to demolition and the other showing the site following pool removal and the land reinstated.

You can send your notification via email to Council’s Development Admin Team.

Exemptions – information about pool exemption status and how to apply if you qualify

Between 1 August 1992 to 30 June 2010, the Swimming Pools Act 1992 provided an alternative to the general requirements of the location of child resistant pool barriers, referred to as exemptions.Exemptions apply for some existing pools based on the age and location of the pool, however, Council strongly recommends that you upgrade your pool to comply with current safety requirements.

Pools that the exemption status applies to

Provided you ensure the means of access to a pool is, at all times, restricted, exemption status applies to:

  • pools constructed prior to 1 August 1990
  • pools on waterfront properties constructed before 1 July 2010
  • pools on properties having an area less than 230 square metres, constructed before 1 July 2010
  • pools on properties having an area of 2 hectares or more, and constructed before 1 July 2010.

You should note that the pool exemption status does not remain in force for the life of the pool.

Additional types of pool exemption

If you do not meet the above criteria, there are circumstances where you can apply for a pool exemption under section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

Before applying for a Certificate of Exemption, make sure that you review section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

New structures

For all new structures (ie, pergola, carport, shed, garage etc,) door exemptions do not apply and child-resistant doors are no longer permitted. New structures are required to be located outside the enclosed pool area child-resistant barriers.

Pool exemption status

Pool exemption status will be removed when any of the following occurs:

  • the exempt barrier is removed for any reason, eg, the dwelling is demolished
  • the exempt barrier was not in place or was not provided
  • restricted access to either a pool barrier or pool is not provided
  • access to a pool barrier or pool is rebuilt or substantially altered
  • you fence your pool on a voluntary basis; once the pool has been fenced, the exemption cannot then be reinstated and you must comply with all current compliance standards
  • restricted access to a pool barrier or pool does not comply or is not maintained.

In order to keep your exemption status, the means of access and pool barriers must continue to comply with the safety standard applicable at the time your pool was installed.

Apply to Council for a Certificate of Exemption

You are required to satisfy Council that the circumstances warrant an exemption. You can apply to Council for a Certificate of Exemption:

Lodge your Application for a Certificate of Exemption with Council in person at the customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please note: ensure you arrive before 4pm so there is sufficient time to thoroughly check and lodge your application. You will also need to pay your application fees at the time of lodgement.

You can email your application to Council at Eurobodalla Shire Council.

If you are mailing your application, include payment with your application to avoid delay in lodgement. You can mail your application to:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council,
    PO Box 99,
    MORUYA NSW 2537.

When assessing your application, Council will consider the following:

  • whether it is unreasonable or impractical for the pool to comply with the requirements
  • whether the alternative safety provisions are effective.

Leasing, buying or selling a property with a pool

In 29 April 2016, new laws were introduced by the NSW Government applying to the sale and lease of properties with a swimming pool or spa pool in New South Wales. These laws have an impact on anyone who is buying, selling or leasing a property with a swimming pool or spa pool.Before buying a property with a swimming pool, it is strongly recommended that you ensure the pool complies with the requirements under the Swimming Pools Act 1992. You should also ensure that the pool is registered in the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

Properties that have a swimming pool or spa pool, and are to be sold, must have:

  • a valid Certificate of Compliance, or
  • a relevant Occupation Certificate (no more than three years old) and a Certificate of Registration, or
  • a valid Certificate of Non-Compliance, attached to the sales contract to sell the property. Not attaching the certificates when required may allow the purchaser of the property to rescind the contract within 14 days of exchange, unless settlement has already occurred.

For properties that are leased, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 have been complied with in respect to the swimming pool on the premises.

Properties that have a swimming pool or spa pool, and are to be leased, must have:

  • a valid Certificate of Compliance, or
  • a relevant Occupation Certificate (no more than three years old) and a Certificate of Registration attached to new residential tenancy agreements to rent the property. The landlord or real estate agent must provide the tenant of the property with a copy of the valid Certificate of Compliance or Occupation Certificate before the property is leased.

These new laws do not apply to properties with more than two lots and a shared pool, such as units in strata complexes or community schemes.

Renter’s responsibility

If you live in a rental property with a pool, it is your responsibility to ensure that all gates and doors are kept securely closed at all times.

If a pool gate or fence needs repair, you should report this without delay to the owner or agent.

Registration of your swimming pool or spa pool

Swimming pool and spa pool registration is free. You can register your swimming pool or spa pool online at the NSW Government Swimming Pool Register.

You can also check online to ensure that your pool has been registered.

Alternatively, you can complete the following application form and submit it to Council:

Once you have registered your swimming pool or spa pool online (if applicable), you will receive a Certificate of Registration, which you can print.

Certificate of Compliance

In addition to the pool registration requirements, the amendments to the Swimming Pools Act 1992 by the NSW Government required all councils to adopt a swimming pool barrier inspection program with the aim of ensuring that swimming pools are protected by a child-proof barrier designed to meet Australian Standard requirements.

Council’s Building Certifiers can carry out a swimming pool barrier inspection and issue a Certificate of Compliance, if the swimming pool or spa pool meets all the safety requirements.

A Certificate of Compliance is valid for three years from its date of issue. You can check if a Certificate of Compliance has been issued online at the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

Should the pool already have a Certificate of Compliance or a relevant Occupation Certificate that is less than three years old, there is no requirement for the pool to be inspected as part of the inspection program.

Inspection fees
Council will charge a fee of $150.00 (including GST) for an initial pool barrier inspection and $100.00 (including GST) for a reinspection, if required, (which includes the issue of a Certificate of Compliance for complying pool fences). Council will not charge additional fees to conduct subsequent follow-up inspections.

Application form
You can request a pool barrier inspection by completing the following application form and paying the applicable inspection fee:

Before you lodge your application with Council, however, you must have registered your swimming pool or spa pool online and have a valid Certificate of Registration; this will need to be lodged with your Pool Barrier Inspection Application.

Lodge your application with Council in person at the customer service centre, corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. Please note: ensure you arrive before 4pm so there is sufficient time to thoroughly check and lodge your application. You will also need to pay your application fees at the time of lodgement.

You can also email your application to Council at Eurobodalla Shire Council.

If you are mailing your application, include payment with your application to avoid delay in lodgement. You can mail your application to:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council,
    PO Box 99,
    MORUYA NSW 2537.

Certificate of Non-Compliance

A certificate of Non-Compliance has a one-year validity and relates only to a sales contract for a property. It does not provide exemption for an existing owner from carrying out works required to achieve compliance.

Existing pool owner
Whether you have a Certificate of Non-Compliance or not, the existing pool owner is in breach of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and is subject to enforcement action, which may include the issue of a fine for non-compliance. In this regard, if your property settlement has been extended, or is delayed, as the existing owner of the pool, you are required to carry out the works that are needed in order for the pool to comply with the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

New pool owner
The Certificate of Non-Compliance will indicate whether or not the pool is a significant risk to public safety. Certificate of Non-Compliance indicates pool is a significant risk to public safety

Certificate of non-compliance indicates pool is a significant risk to public safety
Whether or not a Certificate of Non-Compliance has been issued, the new pool owner will not receive an additional timeframe to carry out required works, and will be subject to enforcement action if the pool barrier continues to be non-compliant. Certificate of Non-Compliance indicates pool is not a significant risk to public safety

Certificate of Non-Compliance indicates pool is not a significant risk to public safety
Whether or not a Certificate of Non-Compliance has been issued, the new pool owner is provided with a timeframe of 90 days from the date of purchase of the property to carry out any works that are required to ensure the pool barrier is compliant. Should the required works not be undertaken after 90 days and the pool barrier continues to be non-compliant, the new pool owner is subject to enforcement action.

The importance of supervision and CPR

It is important to remember that while fencing may assist in reducing drownings in backyard pools, the most effective way to prevent drownings is for children to be adequately supervised by a parent or other responsible adult.

It is essential that children are taught to swim from an early age.

Training in resuscitation techniques will give adults the skills required in an emergency situation.

Surf Life Saving NSW and Royal Life Saving Society – Australia conduct CPR courses:

All supervising adults are encouraged to undertake CPR training.

Access to further information

Relevant legislation and standards

The relevant legislation and standards for pool safety are:

We can help you

If you would like more information, please contact Council’s Development Help Desk:

  • T: 02 4474 1231
  • E: Council’s Development Help Desk
  • Visit our customer service centre at the corner of Vulcan Street and Campbell Street, Moruya, Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4.30pm.