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Rules changes for pools and spas

Date: November 01, 2021

There are nearly 1,400 public pools and spas in the state. These public bathing facilities are located at hotels, motels, water parks, campgrounds, youth camps, municipal parks, condominium and apartment complexes, health facilities and the like. The NHDES Public Pool and Spa Program is charged with creating regulations to keep the swimming public safe.  In 2019, the program underwent a significant change in statutory requirements, and after subsequent rulemaking, those requirements are now being rolled out to pool owners and operators. The goal of these changes is to ensure that all new and existing facilities are properly designed, constructed, operated and maintained, while providing support to facility owners, operators and the public who visit those facilities.

NHDES now has a new registration form that must be completed by all public bathing facilities. The mandatory registration collects up-to-date establishment and contact information as well as basic physical specifications and circulation system details for each facility. Registration is absolutely free, and the form is now available on our PBF Registration Form webpage. This requirement is important for two important reasons: 1) it requires the pool owners to be aware of the specifics of their facility, and 2) it provides a baseline for NHDES to make sure that existing pools are treated fairly. NHDES is requesting that all year-round facilities complete the registration by January 1, 2022 and all seasonal facilities complete it prior to operation next summer.  

Also new this year is an updated permit application for new or renovated pools. Each year, NHDES discovers newly constructed or renovated pools that did not have prior approvals from the program. This can cause major problems if those facilities were not built to the program’s requirements. For renovation or new construction of any public bathing facility, there must be prior approval from NHDES and part of that approval is the design review. The design review fee is $100 for one pool of equal to or less than 400 square feet plus $25 for every additional 100 square feet. Learn more about permit approval.  

Finally, over the next year, two other components of the statute changes will be implemented. First, is a requirement that each facility be operated under the supervision of an individual that holds a current certification from an approved training program dedicated specifically to the operation of public bathing facilities. For year-round facilities this becomes effective January 1, 2022 and for seasonal facilities, prior to opening in the spring or summer of 2022.

Second, a new fee-based annual compliance self-certification is being implemented to include annual compliance documentation that focuses on the practical aspects of public pool and spa operation such as circulation; filter and disinfection system performance; daily water quality testing and recordkeeping; presence of critical life-safety equipment; and facility maintenance.

Standards of public pool and spa design and operation have been established in rule by NHDES, to make sure that proposed construction provides for safe and efficient operation, that water quality is regularly monitored and maintained, and that maintenance is regularly performed and documented by the operator, all providing a clean, healthy and safe environment for the public.
To learn more about the program please visit the NHDES Public Bathing Facility Program webpage.