January 12th, 2010 @ 12:33pm
By Randall Jeppesen

UTAH COUNTY -- Six Utah County swimming pools or spas have been shut down over the past week because inspectors say they haven't made required improvements to meet federal safety standards.

Just over two years ago the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into law to make sure pool drains couldn't suck, trap, or entangle and kill someone underwater. The bill was promoted by former Secretary of State James Baker who lost a granddaughter after she became trapped under water by the suction of a hot tub drain.

The state gave pool owners until Dec. 19, 2009 to make upgrades before county health departments would have the authority to enforce the act.

Utah County then gave pool owners one more week to be compliant before they started shutting pools down.

"Our stance here in Utah County is that pools will no longer operate that aren't Virginia Graeme Baker compliant," said pools program manager Jason Garrett. "In that case you'll have pools that just won't be allowed to open until they are compliant."

Some pool owners have decided the upgrades to the drainage system is just too costly so they opted to close their pools down instead of cutting open concrete at the bottom of the pools and replacing piping.

Garrett says some of the upgrades range from adding a second drain to putting equipment on pumps that automatically shut them off if the water pressure changes.

He says the upgrades have ranged from $500 to $25,000 depending on the pool and how it was built.

The county says around 50 season pools, including some large city pools, still need to put in upgrades before they'll be allowed to open this summer.

"The last thing any facility manager wants is to have an incident," said Garrett. "Most started working towards compliance almost immediately. A few either didn't know about it or didn't think the act applied to them."

He says they've had some problems with smaller day spas that aren't open to the general public that didn't think they were included in the new guidelines.

The act applies to all 400 pools and spas that the county currently inspects.

"Utah County hasn't had a drowning tragedy due to entrapment," said Garrett. "There has been some injuries, though."

The pools that were closed are:

  • Mt. Timpanogos Village Pool and Spa in American Fork
  • Elevate Fitness Training Pool in Orem
  • Main Springs Day Spa in Orem
  • Liberty Square Apartment Spa in Provo
  • Winter Haven Spa in Orem
  • Super 8 Spa in Provo

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Pool Safety Tips

  • Use the Water Watchdog System to make sure children are always closely supervised in the pool area.

  • Remind kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

  • Never dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

  • Keep gates to the pool area latched.

More water safety tips