If your community association has a pool, you are probably well aware of the sweeping changes made to the Public Recreational Bathing Code (Bathing Code) in January 2018. You may not, however, be aware of two updates since those revisions were implemented.

To understand the updates, a brief background of the Bathing Code and the January 2018 revisions will be helpful. Even though their pools are private, community associations of three or more units are considered “specially exempt facilities” under the Bathing Code. This means that the association can choose to voluntarily comply with the lifeguard and first aid personnel requirements of the Bathing Code or choose not to comply.

Pools with diving boards, water slides, and similar equipment were not eligible for the exemption. Among many other requirements, the January 2018 Bathing Code revisions also required pools to submit a Checklist each year, prohibited lifeguards from performing any tasks that would take attention away from the pool, and set new requirements for pool circulation systems.

Now, on to the updates.

The Department of Health clarified the lifeguard requirements for pools exercising their exempt status in an April 2018 update to its web page FAQs. The clarification states that a hybrid approach to lifeguard staffing is permissible and an association need not choose between zero lifeguards and the full lifeguard staffing as required under the Bathing Code.

This means that a community association may choose to not comply with the Bathing Code lifeguard requirements but may still employ a lifeguard on certain busy summer days if it chooses to do so. This update clarifies the Bathing Code and was not a change to the law itself.

The second update, effective January 31, 2019, was a statutory change to establish certain exceptions to the Bathing Code. These 2019 exceptions:

  1. Allow specially exempt facilities to exercise their exemptions even if their pool has a diving board, water slide, or similar equipment,
  2. Make the Checklist optional for pools; for seasonal pools the local inspector may choose to rely on the Checklist in lieu of an actual inspection,
  3. Allow lifeguards to perform minor administrative tasks as long as they do not cause an imminent, significant risk to bather safety, and
  4. Confirm that swimming pool circulation systems in place as of January 1, 2018, need not comply with the new requirements of the Bathing Code until the system is altered (altered does not include normal maintenance or replacement of equipment).

The April 2018 clarification about lifeguard staffing and the 2019 Bathing Code revisions do not address all of the concerns community associations may have with regard to the Bathing Code as revised in January 2018. However, a few issues are clarified and a few requirements that were a concern have been modified.

If you are a board member or manager with questions about the Public Recreational Bathing Code, please contact me.