Public pools

Enjoy your pool and keep your family safe. Find out the safety requirements for all swimming pools in Port Stephens. The following information is relevant for public pools, if you are wishing to find information on a pool on private land see swimming pools.

Swimming pool fencing and gates

Pools that can be filled to a depth of 300mm need to be surrounded by a fence.

In NSW, a pool fence must:

  • Be at least 1.2m high (as measured from the finished ground level)
  • Be at least 1.8m high if forming part of a boundary fence
  • Not leave a gap at the bottom bigger than 10cm from the finished ground level
  • Not have gaps of more than 10cm between any vertical bars in the fence
  • If containing horizontal climbable bars, have these spaced at least 90cm apart

The gate compartment of a pool fence must:

  • Be self-closing, self-latching and must be closed at all times
  • Open outwards from the pool area
  • No double gates are permitted
  • Latch release mechanism to be 1.5-metres above the ground except where a shield is used. If a shield is used the latch is positioned on the pool side near the top of the gate in accordance with Australian Standard AS-1926. The shield makes it necessary to reach over the gate to release the latch mechanism
  • Gate width is to be kept to a minimum (no more than 1-metre) to minimise the possibility of the weight of the gate causing the gate to drop with the self-latching mechanism failing

When installing a swimming pool fence, it must comply with the Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 Swimming Pool Safety – Part 1 Safety barriers for swimming pools. The standards can be viewed free of charge by appointment at Council.

Public pools and spas

Public swimming pools and public spa pools are pools to which members of the public are admitted, whether free of charge, on payment of a fee or otherwise. These include pools located at:

  • clubs
  • workplaces
  • hotels
  • guest houses
  • resorts, holiday units, or similar facility for the use of guests
  • schools
  • hospitals

It does not include pools situated at private residential premises (unless such a pool is used by members of the public, ie learn-to-swim pools.)

Public pool registration

All public swimming pools and spa pools need to be registered with Council. Registration is easy – simply complete the following Notification of Public Swimming Pool or Spa Pool form.

Any person(s) found to be operating a public pool without having notified Council could be liable for a fine of a maximum 10 penalty units.

Pool testing

All persons operating a public pool must undertake:

  • Chemical testing
  • Microbiological testing
  • Keep records (minimum six months) showing the above

Further information is available on this in Public swimming pool and spa pool information booklet.

Council have also produced some sample public pool daily log sheets to assist pool operating documenting the tests they must carry out.

Council inspection program

Council undertakes mandatory inspections of public swimming and spa pools as recreational water can be a favourable environment for many different types of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, amoebae, cysts and other parasites to thrive. Dirty pools, warm pools, aerated pools, pools with too little disinfectant, pools with too much stabiliser and chlorine  disinfected pools where the pH is too high (or a combination of all of these) can easily lead to infection transmission.

Due to potential public health risks from pools, the Public Health Act 2010 and associated regulations were introduced in New South Wales which introduced prescribed operating requirements for public swimming pools and spa pools. These cover matters such as temperature, disinfection systems, disinfection concentrations, pH, alkalinity, testing and record keeping. These are all things that pool operators must understand as without knowledge in these areas the risks to pool users increase greatly. These are the things Council check as part of the swimming pool inspection program.