More than 800 swimming pools in the Whakatāne District will have to be inspected in the next three years to check that they comply with new Government regulations designed to prevent unsupervised access by children under five years old.

Whakatāne District Council Building and Monitoring Manager Barbara Dempsey says the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 requires councils to check that all residential swimming pools in their territorial areas have fences or other means of restricting access by children. Inspections will then have to be repeated every three years.

“The rule aims to enhance the safety of young children and applies to any pool which is 400mm or more deep and filled, or partly filled with water,” Mrs Dempsey explains. “Owners have a legal obligation to make sure their pool is compliant and the Council is required to check compliance every three years and take action if the fencing or other barriers to access are inadequate.”

Mrs Dempsey says spa pools may be exempt, depending on the situation. “Spa pool owners will be notified of the exemption criteria and asked to confirm whether their pools meet those criteria. If that is the case and a signed declaration is received, no inspection will be required.

“There will be no exemptions for swimming pools, however, and owners will be progressively contacted by letter with a planned inspection date and information on what is required to achieve compliance,” she adds. “That will provide an opportunity to address any issues prior to inspection and make the process as simple and economical as possible. The cost to the Council will be recovered by a fee of $75 per inspection, so we want to ensure that wherever possible, only one inspection is needed.”

The first notifications for the initial round of three-yearly inspections will go out next week and the Council plans to inspect about five pools each week from then onwards.

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