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Swimming Pools Management Frequently Asked Questions

  • General

    • See the Location & Hours page for the Swimming Pool Program’s location and hours.

    • Contact information for the Swimming Pool Program is on the Location & Hours page.

    • Public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes are regulated by the Swimming Pool Program. The Swimming Pool Program does not regulate or approve plans for the construction of new or modification of existing private residential pools, spas and bathing lakes .

      The wading and special use pools class includes a number of different pool types. For example, spray pads fall under this class of pools. See the Terms and Abbreviations page for definitions of the various types of pools, spas and bathing lakes.

      Please contact the Swimming Pool Program if you have any questions about the regulations affecting your facility.

    • See the Rules and Regulations page for the rules and regulations that apply to public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes.

  • Projects

    • The Swimming Pool Program reviews and approves projects for public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes. Public and semi-public pools, spas and bathing lakes are typically owned and operated by municipalities or businesses such as hotels, apartment complexes, homeowner’s associations, churches, schools and other government, non-profit or commercial enterprises.

      The Swimming Pool Program does not regulate or approve plans for the construction of new or modification of existing private residential pools, spas and bathing lakes. Private residential pools, spas and bathing lakes located in incorporated areas of Maricopa County are reviewed and approved by the Planning and Zoning Agency of the governing local municipality. Private residential pools, spas and bathing lakes located in unincorporated areas of Maricopa County are reviewed and approved by the Maricopa County Department of Planning and Development. Please contact the local municipality's Planning and Zoning Agency or the Maricopa County Planning and Development Department for their applications and requirements.

    • A flow diagram detailing the typical submittal, review and approval process for projects that require Approval To Construct/Approval Of Construction can be found on the Forms/Applications page. Each activity or event related to the review and approval process is shown on the flow diagram as a series of logical steps occurring in a specific chronological sequence.

      The review and approval process for an Approval To Remodel/Approval Of Remodel is very similar to the Approval To Construct/Approval Of Construction review and approval process. Additional information about the review and approval process can be found on the Approvals and Permits page.

    • All plans and specifications submitted to the Department for approval must have been prepared by, or under the supervision of, a currently registered Arizona Professional Engineer or Architect, or a swimming pool contractor with an Arizona Registrar of Contractor’s A-9, A-19, KA-5 or KA-6 license who is licensed to practice in the state of Arizona. The licensed preparer shall certify that the plans comply with the regulations and the criteria are contained in the swimming pool design policies.

      Please contact the Swimming Pool Program if you have any questions about preparing a project for submittal.

    • Projects requiring approval are submitted by sending an application form, a check for the review fee and the relevant documentation for the project to the Swimming Pool Program.

      Application and instruction forms for submission of projects can be found on the Forms/Applications page.

    • Please contact the Swimming Pool Program if you have any questions about submitting a project.

      Specific information concerning project applications, fees and submittal documentation requirements is contained in the application instruction forms. Application and instruction forms can be obtained from the Forms/Applications page.

    • The type of documentation submitted to the Swimming Pool Program for review and approval of a project which involves the construction of or modification to a public and semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial bathing lake typically includes Engineering Calculations and Design Data, Design Drawings and Technical Specifications. The Design Drawings must include a pool enclosure detail.

      Please contact the Swimming Pool Program if you have any questions concerning what documentation is required to be submitted for your project.

    • At the present time electronic documentation submittals are not accepted by the Swimming Pool Program. This is due to the requirements of public records archiving, as established by the State of Arizona.

    • If a project is submitted by a Professional Engineer or Architect then the following documentation, as a minimum, must be signed and stamped by the Professional Engineer or Architect:

      • Calculations and Design Data – As required by the Swimming Pool Program or by the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration’s rules and regulations.
      • Design Drawings – Each Individual Design Drawing Sheet.
      • Technical Specifications – Cover, Table of Contents or First Page.
      • Reports and Other Documentation – As required by the Swimming Pool Program or by the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration’s rules and regulations.

      The engineering or architectural firm must also be registered with the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration.

      It is recommended that engineers and architects submitting documentation to the Swimming Pool Program contact the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration if they have any questions about the rules and regulations related to sealing documentation.

    • ANSI ‘D’ size (24”H x 36”W standard size) drawings must be submitted for the review and approval. Normally only one copy of the documentation is required.

    • The cover page of the design drawings is signed by the Swimming Pool Program staff for projects which involve the construction of or modification to a public and semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial bathing lake and require an Approval To Construct.

      An approval area for the MCESD should be provided on the cover page with space reserved for the following information:

      • Approval By: (Signature)
      • Approval Date:
      • Project Number:

    • The fee amount charged for the review depends on the type of project. Chapter 1, Regulation 5 of the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code (MCEHC) itemizes the fees. The submittal package instructions for each of the application forms on the Forms/Applications page also lists the fees charged for the different types of project components and contains directions on how to compute the fee for a project.

    • When your project is submitted to the Swimming Pool Program it will be logged into our database and assigned a project number. When the review of the project’s plans is complete a Swimming Pool Program staff member will contact you by facsimile or mail.

    • The length of time it takes to obtain an approval depends on the following factors:

      • The degree of difficulty of the project. Complex projects take longer to review.
      • The quality of the design and the level of detail contained within the submitted documentation for a particular project. If the design is complete and all regulatory, operational and maintenance concerns have been addressed, the review and approval process will be relatively quick.
      • The current workload of the Swimming Pool Program staff. If a number of projects are already queued for review your project will not be reviewed immediately.

    • The review and approval of a project may be expedited by paying an expedited review fee. An expedited review doubles the fee amount for the project.

      The review will be expedited, with the project being reviewed ahead of non-expedited projects. However, no guarantees can be made regarding the length of time the review cycle will take to complete because the review cycle time is dependent on the quality of the engineering design, the level of detail contained within the submitted project documentation, and the Swimming Pools Program's current workload.

  • Approvals

    • An approval allows a new pool, wading pool, special use pool, spa or bathing lake to be constructed, or an existing pool, wading pool, special use pool, spa or bathing lake to be constructed or remodeled. A permit allows a pool, spa or bathing lake to be used and operated.

      For example, when the engineering plan review process for a new swimming pool project is completed an Approval To Construct is issued to allow the construction of the swimming pool to commence. After construction of the swimming pool is completed and it has passed all inspections an Approval Of Construction is issued. Once the Approval Of Construction is issued, an operations and maintenance compliance inspection of the swimming pool is performed and an operating permit is issued. When the operating permit is issued the swimming pool is allowed to be used and operated as stipulated by the conditions of its permit.

    • The following types of approvals are issued by the Swimming Pools Program:

      • Approval To Construct/Approval Of Construction
      • Approval To Remodel/Approval Of Remodel

      Additional information about these approvals can be found on the Approvals and Permits page.

    • Construction may commence once an Approval To Construct certificate has been issued.

    • An approval must be obtained for a public and semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial bathing lake when:

      • A new pool, spa or bathing lake is to be constructed.
      • An existing pool, spa or bathing lake is to be modified and the modification affects the shape, depth or water circulation system; modification of a disinfection system; resurfacing of the pool interior or deck; addition of a water feature or planter; installation of diving equipment; or modification of the enclosure.
      • A change in use of an existing semi-public swimming pool, spa or bathing lake to a public swimming pool, spa or bathing lake.
      • A change in use of an existing private residential swimming pool, spa or bathing lake to a public or semi-public swimming pool, spa or bathing lake.

    • Construction may commence once an Approval To Construct or Approval To Remodel has been issued.

    • "Construction must be substantially complete within one year after the date of issue of an Approval To Construct or Approval To Remodel or else the approval expires."

    • An expired Approval To Construct or Approval To Remodel can be renewed once within an 18 month period from its date of original issue provided the original design is unchanged.

      An Approval To Construct or Approval To Remodel application must be submitted with a check for the renewal fee. The renewal fee is equal to one-half the fee amount originally charged for the project. The renewal grants a one year extension from the date the approval expired.

      If an Approval To Construct or Approval To Remodel has expired and cannot be renewed because it was previously renewed or the design of the project has changed, then a new project approval must be obtained.

    • A newly constructed public and semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial bathing lake may be used once an operating permit has been issued. An existing pool, spa or bathing lake that has been remodeled can be used once the Approval Of Remodel has been issued.

  • Variances

    • A variance is an approval or waiver issued by the Department that authorizes a deviation from one or more requirements of the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code (MCEHC) for the construction or modification of a public or semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial bathing lake if, in the opinion of the Department, a health hazard, safety or nuisance will not result from the deviation.

      Additional information about variances can be found on the Variance Information page.

    • A variance may be requested by submitting a Variance Request application for the construction or modification of public and semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spa or artificial and semi-artificial bathing lake with explanatory documentation, pertinent material, exhibits, photographs, and any material necessary to inform one as to the reason for the variance request. The Variance Request application and instruction forms can be obtained from the Forms/Applications page.

      Variance requests are reviewed by the Swimming Pool Advisory Committee (SPAC) at a hearing open to the public. Swimming Pool Variance hearings are scheduled to be heard every second Thursday of the month when properly filed with the Division. A letter is sent to the Applicant in advance of the hearing notifying the Applicant of the date, time and location of the hearing.

      Once the hearing has been completed, the SPAC recommends the approval or disapproval of the request to an Environmental Health Officer. The Environmental Health Officer renders a final decision within ten (10) days of receiving the Committee recommendations. A letter will be sent to the Applicant notifying the Applicant of the decision.

      If the Applicant for the variance request is dissatisfied with the decision of the Environmental Health Officer, the Applicant may appeal to the Board of Health. Such appeals shall be presented to the Secretary of the Board of Health in writing, within thirty (30) days after the filing of the decision of the Environmental Health Officer.

      Additional information about variances can be found on the Variance Information page.

  • Operating Permits

    • Operating permits are required for public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes. Operating permits are not required for private residential pools and spas. The operating permit must be displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises where the public may readily observe it.

      Projects to construct and/or modify public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes require review and approval by the Swimming Pools Program prior to undertaking the work even if the pool, spa or bathing lake already has an operating permit in place.

      If an existing operating permit lapses or is revoked, the pool, spa or bathing lake must submit a new construction application and come into compliance with the current code requirements in order to qualify for a new operating permit.

      Additional information about the approval process may be found on the Approvals and Permits page.

    • Operating permits for public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes are renewed annually. A renewal notice is mailed by the Department’s Business Operations Division to the owner of the pool, spa or bathing lake prior to the expiration of the permit. Renewal eligibility is contingent on compliance with the rules and regulations. The fees for operating permits are listed in the fee schedule in Chapter I of the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code .

    • An operating permit can be closed when a public or semi-public pool, wading pool or special use pool, spas or artificial bathing lake is permanently closed. Please contact the Swimming Pools Program if you want to close an operating permit.

  • Design

    • Per the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 6, Regulation 1(e), the maximum allowed bathing load for a public or semi-public swimming pool is calculated as follows:

      • (10) square feet of pool surface area per bather shall be provided in the "non-swimmer" area.
      • Twenty-four (24) square feet of pool surface area shall be provided for each swimmer in the "swimming" area.
      • 300 square feet of pool surface area shall be reserved around each diving board or diving platform. This reserved area shall not be included in determining the "swimming" area.

    • A pool, spa or bathing lake must be filled only with potable water from an approved source. An approved backflow prevention device or an air gap must be installed on the potable water supply line.

    • One (1) or more drinking fountains dispensing drinking water from an approved source must be located on the deck of each public swimming pool or spa.

    • All pools and spas must be continuously and automatically disinfected by an approved means, which will maintain an adequate and readily measurable residual of disinfectant in the water. Bathing lakes may not be required to be disinfected unless disinfection is necessary to meet bacteriological standards.

    • The Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 3, Regulation 21(b) states:

      • "Filter backwash and wasted swimming pool or spa water shall be discharged into a sanitary sewer through an approved air gap, an approved subsurface disposal system or by other means that are approved by the Department. The method of disposal shall comply with applicable disposal requirements established by a municipal or other local authority. There shall be no direct physical connection between the sewer system and the water circulation system of a public or semipublic swimming pool or spa."

  • Construction

    • Two field inspections must be performed while the pool, spa or bathing lake is being constructed. The first inspection is the rough plumbing inspection. This inspection occurs prior to the pool, spa or bathing lake being gunited. The second inspection occurs after the pool, spa or bathing lake has been gunited and prior to plaster or tile work being started.

      When construction work is completed and a Construction Certification letter has been submitted a final construction inspection will be performed.

      If you have any questions concerning construction inspections of public or semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas or artificial bathing lakes, please contact the Swimming Pool Program.

    • If you have any questions concerning construction inspections of public or semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas or artificial bathing lakes please contact the Swimming Pools Program.

  • Operations and Maintenance

    • The Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 2, Regulation 3 requires that not more than 15 percent (15%) of the water samples collected from a pool shall:

      1. Contain more than 200 bacteria per milliliter as determined by the standard (35°C [95ºF]) agar plate count, or
      2. Show a confirmed positive test for coliform organisms in any of the five (5) - ten (10) milliliter portions of a sample or more than one (1) coliform organism per 50 milliliters when the membrane filter test is used.

    • The Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 2, Regulation 4 requires disinfection residuals and alkalinity to be maintained as follows:

      1. Whenever chlorine, or a chlorine compound, is employed for disinfection the amount of free chlorine residual in the water shall not be less than 1.0 ppm or more than 5.0 ppm for public and semi-public swimming pools, and shall not be less than 3.0 ppm or more than 5.0 ppm for a spa, at a pH of 7.2 to 7.8.
      2. Whenever bromine is employed for disinfection the bromine residual in the water shall not be less than 2.0 ppm or more than 4.0 ppm for public and semi-public swimming pools, and shall not be less than 3.0 ppm or more than 5.0 ppm for a spa.
      3. Total alkalinity for pools and spas shall be maintained between 60 ppm and 180 ppm.

      The pH of the water should be maintained between 7.0 and 8.0.

    • The Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 2, Regulation 5 requires:

      1. The surface of the pool or spa’s water shall be kept free of scum and floating debris. The bottom and sides of the pool or spa shall be maintained free of sediment, dirt, slime and algae. Water shall be maintained free of turbidity and shall be sufficiently clear so that the main drain outlet is clearly visible to an adult standing on the pool or spa’s deck, or that a Secchi Disk, when placed at the bottom of the pool or spa at the deepest point, is clearly visible to an adult standing on the deck.
      2. The temperature of heated water coming into a bathing place shall not exceed 104°F (40°C).

    • The minimum testing and record keeping requirements are detailed in the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 2, Regulation 6 which states:

      • "All pools shall be equipped with approved test equipment to determine pH, disinfectant residual, total alkalinity and temperature. The chemical disinfection level, pH, total alkalinity, and temperature of the water shall be tested at least once daily and an operating log that includes the results of these tests shall be maintained for 12 months and made available to the Department, any other regulatory authorities, or a member of the public upon request."

    • The Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 12 Regulation 2 requires:

      • "Operators of a public or semipublic natural bathing place, a semi-artificial bathing place, or an artificial lake shall ensure that the public or semipublic natural bathing place, semi-artificial bathing place, or artificial lake meets the narrative and numeric water quality standards in 18 A.A.C. 11, Article 1 when the public or semipublic natural bathing place, semi-artificial bathing place, or artificial lake is open for water contact recreation. Operators shall collect one (1) sample per one (1) acre in the bathing area and one (1) sample per ten (10) acres of overall lake surfaces. Samples shall be collected and examined in accordance with the procedures outlined in the latest edition of "Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater". The owner shall collect and submit weekly water samples for bacteriological examination on a routine basis while the bathing area is in active use."

    • The minimum testing and record keeping requirements are detailed in the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 12, Regulation 1 which states:

      • "The operator(s) shall perform tests or have tests performed by a certified laboratory to show the degree of compliance with these regulations and shall record the results of the tests in the daily operation record. Such records shall be maintained on the premises and made available to the Department upon request. They shall include as a minimum:
        1. pH - once daily
        2. Bacteriological results - weekly
        3. Turbidity, as measured by Secchi disk - once daily
        4. Temperature - once daily"

    • A number of usage restrictions exist for pools or spas. Some typical usage restrictions include:

      • Observe all safety regulations.
      • No drinks, candy, tobacco, popcorn, gum, alcohol, or food of any kind shall be permitted in the pool or within ten (10) feet of a public bathing place or within four (4) feet of a semipublic bathing place. Food or drink is allowed in the pool enclosure, but not in the pool or in walkways, provided that only plastic or paper serving utensils, cups and dishes are used.
      • No glass is allowed within the pool enclosure.
      • Shower and use the toilet before entering the pool.
      • Keep gate(s) closed – do not prop open.
      • Persons with sore or inflamed eyes, colds, nasal or ear discharges, boils or other acute or obvious skin or body infections, or cuts shall be excluded from the pool.
      • Incontinent, wear tight fitting rubber or plastic pants or a swim diaper
      • Animals are not allowed in the pool enclosure unless they are service animals.

      Additional usage restrictions are detailed in the Maricopa County Environmental Health Code Chapter VI, Section 1.

    • The number of people allowed in the pool is based on the maximum allowed bathing load and should be specified on the pool’s sign.

    • A pool or spa must be closed if any of the following conditions exist:

      • Violation of the bacteriological, chemical, physical standards listed in Maricopa County Environmental Health Code (MCEHC) Chapter VI, Section 2, Regulations 3, 4 and 5.
      • Excessive turbidity, accumulation of scum, algae, grease, or debris in the water or on the pool surface where the water is not sufficiently clear so that the main drain outlet is clearly visible to an adult standing on the pool deck.
      • Fecal contamination of the pool or spa
      • Use of an unapproved water source.
      • Absence of an approved disinfectant.
      • Mechanical disinfectant feeder is missing, inoperative, or malfunctioning.
      • Leaking gas chlorinator.
      • Filtration system is inoperative.
      • Broken or missing main drain covers or other suction outlet covers.
      • When required, lifeguards are not present or the required number of lifeguards is not present.
      • Gates are not self-closing and self-latching or there is a breach of the pool enclosure.
      • Absence of all safety equipment.
      • Electrical wires over the pool.
      • Broken glass in the pool area.
      • Any other operational condition which may cause injury or present a danger to the public health.

      Please reference MCEHC Chapter VI, Section 1 and MCEHC Chapter VI, Section 2 for additional details.

    • If you have any questions concerning compliance inspections or operational issues for public and semi-public pools, wading pools or special use pools, spas and artificial bathing lakes please contact the Environmental Services Department compliance inspector listed on the compliance inspection report or contact the Swimming Pool Program .