Council Swimming Pool Inspection Program

What does the Council Pool Inspection Program involve?

Hawkesbury City Council will be inspecting all pools within the Hawkesbury Local Government Area (upon which a residence is situated) approximately once every five (5) years. Pools located on properties where there are more than two dwellings (e.g. townhouses, flats or units) or where there is tourist or visitor accommodation are required to be inspected once every three (3) years.

How will I know when my pool will be inspected?

Council will be focusing on the more densely populated towns and suburbs first. When an area is scheduled for the program, registered pool owners will receive a letter with their unique Council reference number. Owners may then go online to a secure Council portal and book a time and date for an inspection of the pool barrier to be carried out. Inspections may also be arranged by phoning Council on (02) 4560 4444. An initial inspection fee of $150 applies.

What happens after the inspection?

If the barrier is satisfactory, Council will issue a Certificate of Compliance.

If further works are required to enable a Certificate of Compliance to be issued, you will be advised of the work required to be carried out.  Depending upon the circumstances of the case Council will either specify a time period or otherwise negotiate with you a time period for the work to be completed. If the work has been completed to the satisfaction of Council officers there will be no charge for the re-inspection and Council will issue a Certificate of Compliance.

Should the pool barrier still not comply after the re-inspection and a third inspection of the pool barrier is required, a fee of $100 is payable for that inspection. Only once the pool barrier complies can Council issue a Certificate of Compliance for the pool.

What if I already have a Certificate of Compliance or an Occupation Certificate for my pool?

Should the pool already have a Certificate or Compliance or a relevant Occupation Certificate that is less than three (3) years old, there is no requirement for the pool to be inspected as part of the Inspection Program.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

The NSW State Government has amended legislation which will take effect as of 29 April 2015. The changes impose a responsibility upon a property owner (for a property containing a pool or spa) that such a property cannot be sold or leased unless there is a current Certificate of Compliance or a relevant Occupation Certificate for the pool. These certificates are valid for a period of three (3) years from the date of issue.

The NSW State Government has given Council wide powers to help ensure that pool barriers are compliant with the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act. Council wishes to work with the community to raise the level of awareness of pool safety, to raise the level of compliance with pool barrier requirements and most importantly to help reduce the rate of drownings and near-drownings of young children in our community. Pool owners are advised that heavy penalties exist for failure to cooperate with Council or comply with the Swimming Pool Act.

To register your pool go to www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au or contact Council's Customer Service staff on (02) 4560 4444.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to pay Council to inspect my pool?

Council is obligated by the State Government to inspect all pools for compliance with the safety requirements. There are in excess of 5000 pools known to exist with the Local Government Area. Council could not afford to fulfil its obligation without charging any fees. The State Government has prescribed the fees that Councils can charge in relation to swimming pools.

What happens if I don't pay?

After 29 April 2015 any property containing a pool or spa cannot be sold unless a Certificate of Compliance or relevant Occupation Certificate is valid (i.e. the Certificate must be less than three (3) years old). Council would not be in a position to issue a Certificate of Compliance where fees remain outstanding.

What happens if I don't want Council on my property?

You are entitled to engage the services of a private accredited pool barrier inspector to undertake an inspection and issue a certificate of compliance. It would be appropriate for you to advise Council that this is your intention and also to advise of the expected date that a Certificate of Compliance would be issued and a copy forwarded to Council. Council would update its records once a Certificate of Compliance for the pool was received to reflect when the next inspection was due (e.g in three or five years’ time).

What happens if I don't want anyone on my property?

Council and the property owner have an obligation to ensure that where a pool or spa exists on a property that the pool barrier complies with the requirements applicable at the time the pool was approved. Council has wide powers available to ensure that firstly the pool barrier is safe and secondly that Council, and hence the community, is not exposed to liability as a result of the actions of a property owner.

With respect to the Swimming Pools Inspection Program, it is not Council's intention to investigate structures on the land or any activities occurring on a property that do not relate to the swimming pool or spa pool. The purpose of the visit is pool safety for young children. We request your assistance in providing access and your cooperation in the event that work is required to the pool barrier.

What if I don't have any young children? Do I still need to have a pool barrier?

Yes.  The pool will need to comply with the requirements that applied at the time the pool was approved. These requirements may differ depending upon the age of the pool. Also as a pool owner it is your responsibility to ensure that any visitors, invited or otherwise, to the property are safe. This includes young children.

In the event that the pool was constructed or installed without an approval, the current requirements will apply. In New South Wales a pool that exceeds 300mm in depth or 2000 Litres in capacity requires approval. This includes a spa pool.

Are there any exemptions to the provisions?

The Swimming Pools Act makes provision for exemptions from the requirements in certain circumstances. Exemptions can only be considered by written application to Council. A fee of $70 applies.

An example of a circumstance where Council may consider an exemption to the requirements is where accessibility for disabled or ambulant persons is required. 

What if my pool was recently inspected?

If a Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate or an Occupation Certificate relating to the swimming pool on your land is less than three (3) years old you are not required to participate in the inspection program for the next three years nor would you be required to obtain another certificate of compliance.

I'm on acreage. Is it true that I don't need to fence my pool?

For pools approved before 1 July 2010 an exemption existed for large properties (i.e. 5 acres or 2 hectares or greater) that did not require a pool to be fenced provided that every door and every window of a dwelling on the land was child-safe. The exemption would have been permitted as part of an approval issued for the pool.

The intention of these requirements was to keep young children contained within the dwelling (and assumed that they would be appropriately supervised when outside).  If there are any doubts about these requirements it is recommended that you contact Council’s Customer Service staff to arrange a discussion with one of Council’s pool inspectors to provide advice on your specific circumstances.

What does "child-safe" mean?

With regard to windows "Child-safe" means:

  • Unable to be opened greater than 100mm; or
  • The fly-screen is secured into the frame by screws, pop-rivets or some other mechanical means that requires the use of a tool (such as a drill or screw-driver) to remove the screens; or
  • The windows be provided with bars with openings of no greater than 100mm; or
  • The window sill is 1.8 metres above floor level.

With regard to doors "Child-safe" means:

  • Doors are self-closing and self-latching; and
  • Latches are at 1.5 metres minimum above floor level; and
  • The door swings away from the pool; and
  • There are no pet doors opening greater than 100mm within the door.

I have a dam on my property. Why do I have to fence my pool?

There are a number of reasons why it is appropriate that a pool be fenced. These include:

  1. Typically the pool is in closer proximity to the dwelling than the dam.
  2. A pool is more inviting to a child than would be a dam.
  3. A pool is typically deeper and has steep sides whereas a dam generally has shallow sides;
  4. A child would associate the pool with playing and fun times with family. They may wish to re-create the fun times by playing in or near the pool unsupervised.
  5. The Swimming Pools Act does not relate to dams.

Safety around dams and other waterways is nevertheless an issue and for more information, please see Fact Sheet: Farm Water Safety

What if I don't want (or can't afford) to carry out the work Council requires?

With the ownership of a pool or spa comes the responsibility of ensuring that the pool or spa complies with the relevant State legislation and, most importantly, is safe for residents and visitors to the property and the wider community. Council will give a reasonable amount of time to complete any works required to bring the pool barrier to an acceptable level of compliance. You would be advised to speak with the Council Officer that has directed you to undertake works and negotiate a solution. This may involve an extension of time or another suitable option. If the work was too much and the pool was no longer required, you may decide that demolition of the pool is the best solution.

Council would however be concerned if no apparent action was happening on the part of a pool owner to bring the pool barrier into compliance with the Swimming Pools Act. In the event that Council felt that there was no cooperation or no sufficient progress in resolving a matter, Council may turn to the issuing of Notices and Orders. In the event of a failure to comply, penalties (on-the spot fines) could be issued or the matter may be referred to Council's solicitors to commence legal action to have the matter resolved.

Do I need to have a new Swimming Pool Resuscitation (CPR) Chart?

You should install a new chart If your pictures and wording are faded (e.g. difficult to read from about 3 metres away).

Where do I get a new CPR chart from and how much do they cost?

You can buy a Pool CPR Chart at Hawkesbury City Council for  $22.52 (incl. GST).  They may also be available from pool shops and other suppliers.

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