Pool Spa Safety

For Immediate Release …

To All Public Swimming Pool/Spa/Wading Pool Owners, Operators, Contractors And Consultants
Subject: Compliance With California Health Department Safety Code, Section 116064.2 ( Federal Virginia Graeme Baker Act)
This law applies to all public pools, spas, and wading pools. It applies to those pools located at apartments, condominiums, townhouses, hotels, motels, schools, health clubs, mobile home parks, medical facilities, and includes municipal, resort and community pools.
On October 11, 2009, Assembly Bill 1020 was signed into California State Law. This bill adds section 116064.2 to the California Health and Safety Code. This new section incorporates provisions of the federal Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Act into California State law and is intended to prevent suction drain entrapments and drownings.

Dear Pool and Spa Owner:
We have found there is much confusion regarding the new state law AB 1020 (section 116064.2). This law passed on October 11, 2009 is the state version of the federal law; The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Many of you that are operating commercial pools and spas are clients of ours…having done work for you in the past. It is our intention to keep you as our clients, and giving updates on new mandated requirements for pools, spas, and wading pools.

We are also vitally interested in making sure that your pool and/or spa is brought into compliance, most important for safety reasons, and also for legal reasons as well.

Already we have seen pool operators having been taken advantage of from non-qualified “contractors”, doing illegal installations that have only cost money, but haven’t made the drains one bit safer. In fact, they are in many instances less safe, because of the false sense of security that is implied when “work” has been performed.

Only Qualified Contractors Are Authorized to Conduct the Work:
All persons building a new public pool, replastering, resurfacing, renovating, or replumbing an existing public pool, must possess a valid California C-53 (pool builder), an C-36 (plumbing) or an “A” (general engineering) contractor’s license. A plasterer (C-35) is only licensed to replaster a pool).
Splitting drains or installing an unblockable drain will require a California C-53 (pool builder), or a California C-36 (plumber) or an A (general engineering) contractor’s license.

A contractor with a California C61/D35 may replace drain covers, install safety vacuum release systems and evaluate sumps, but cannot modify any sumps or perform underground plumbing work.

Drains are deemed “un-blockable” when a body can not become entrapped by a suction line. There are options as to which type of drain system you may legally use.

  1. The Split Drain system (see illustration and photos) is considered the Fail-Safe approach. This is the safest compliant approach because the drains are installed a minimum of three (3) feet apart which makes it impossible for a body to become entrapped.
  2. The Large Drain system is when the drain grate is a minimum of 23″ x 18″ This also may be interpreted as “un-blockable.”
  3. The Channel Drain system is drain with a height of 3″ or greater and a length of 31″ or greater.
  4. Retro-Drain system is the installation of pre-manufactured covers that bulge out from the bottom in order to provide proper sump clearance.
  5. Safety Vacuum Release system employs the use of device that cuts off power to the pumps when there is an obstruction.

All safety systems must have drain covers with the latest ASE/ANSI A112.19.17 performance standards.

It is our professional opinion and that the safest, maintenance free, long term solution, against entrapment is the Split Suction Drain system. It’s not the short-cut around the law; it’s truly the most ethical approach to the protection against drain entrapment.

Lastly, By July 1, 2010 all commercial pools, spas, and waders must be compliant and submit a certification of compliance form to the health department verifying that their pool(s) meet all provisions of the new State law.

Very truly yours,

Richard D. Dietz

Please see the following attachments:


SafetyImageThe suction side of each pump, located on any type of pool, shall be plumbed with at least two suction outlets. Suction outlets shall be separated by a distance of at least 3 feet, measured from the center of one suction pipe to the other. The suction drains must be plumbed with a “T” in the center that is hydraulically balanced. Each branch of the “T” must be at least the same size as the main suction plumbing. Note: Spas have two separate systems, one for the filtration and the other for the jets. Both systems need to comply with dual drain requirements.