FAQs - Pool and Spa

Q01:  Do I need a permit to operate my swimming pool or spa?
A01:  All commercial and public swimming pools or spas are required to have a permit to operate issued by the Environmental Management Department, Environmental Health Division.

Private pools and spas are those which are intended for non-commercial use and are not used by more than three owner families and their guests. Private pools meeting this requirement do not require a permit to operate from our Department.

Q02:  Does the Environmental Management Department need to be contacted before constructing, remodeling, or altering a commercial swimming pool or spa?
A02:  Yes, you must contact our Department before constructing, remodeling or altering any commercial swimming pool or spa. Please call EMD Plan Review directly at 916-874-6010 for details.

Q03:  Do I need to contact the Environmental Management Department before I build a fence around my swimming pool?
A03:  Yes, Public pools and spas are required to have enclosures and gates that meet specific criteria in order to provide maximum protection for people, especially small children. Please see Fencing Enclosures for Public Pools for requirements.

Q04:  Where can I find out how to properly maintain my swimming pool or spa?
A04:  There are quite a few swimming pool supply stores in Sacramento County that offer excellent professional advice on how to maintain your pool. In the event that you would prefer not to maintain the pool yourself, professional pool service companies are available. In addition, there are basic pool maintenance training programs available.

For more information, please visit www.poolspanews.com.

Q05:  An inspector from EMD recently left a report documenting several problems I need to correct. What are these violations based upon?
A05:  The inspector is enforcing state law. Both the California Health and Safety Code and the California Code of Regulations have sections concerning the design and operation of public swimming pools.

Q06:  I want to place plastic covers over my public swimming pool and spa. Is this OK?
A06:  No, floating pool covers and anchored safety covers can be dangerous to children and even adults. Contact EMD at 916-875-8440 to speak with a pool specialist prior to purchasing or installing a cover. Unless properly designed, plastic covers are not allowed. 

Q07:  What if I think I got sick from swimming in a pool?
A07:  Call Sacramento County 311 Connect at 916-875-4311 or 311 to file a complaint. You should call as soon as possible in order for the Specialist to complete a thorough investigation in a timely manner. Be sure you have the name of the facility where the pool is located and a street address before calling. Consult with your doctor if your symptoms are severe and/or you want a definitive diagnosis.

Q08:  How do you sanitize the pool after a baby has had a fecal accident in the pool?
A08:  The pool or spa must be cleared of all pool users and the pool closed for use while the disinfection procedures are being followed. Please see Guidelines for Disinfecting Public Swimming Pools and Spas after a Fecal, Vomit, or Blood Contamination for procedure details.

Q09:  Are lifeguards required at public pools?
A09:  A lifeguard is not required at most public swimming pools. However, if a lifeguard is not provided, a sign must be posted that is visible from the pool deck that reads "WARNING, NO LIFE GUARD ON DUTY". Lifeguard service is required for any public swimming pool when a direct fee is charged. For example: YMCA or a City Pool.

Q10:  What are the proper chemical levels for the pool?
A10:  The free chlorine residual should be between 3.0 to 10.0 parts per million. The pH level should be between 7.2 to 7.8. If cyanuric acid is used, it should be below 100 parts per million. Daily records of chlorine and pH levels must be maintained by the pool owner. To check for proper chemical levels, a DPD type test kit is required.

Q11:  What is cyanuric acid?
A11:  Cyanuric acid is a chlorine stabilizer that is present in many granulated chlorine products. Over time it will accumulate in the pool water. Excessive levels can interfere with the effectiveness of the chlorine in the pool. It should be tested once a month and should not be allowed to exceed 100 parts per million.

Q12:  The pool inspector made the apartment management turn down the temperature of the spa. Why?
A12:  The maximum allowable water temperature for a public spa (such as the one in your apartment complex) is 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Drownings have occurred in the past that were directly attributed to people fainting in spa water that was above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Older and young people are particularly sensitive to these higher temperature ranges.