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Swimming Pools and Spas

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in Queensland for children under the age of five. Compliant pool fencing, active supervision and swimming lessons can save lives. Queensland’s Current Pool Safety Laws were introduced in 2009 and apply to all regulated Swimming pools in Queensland.The Pool Safety Legislation is a Queensland Government requirement and you are encouraged to visit the Department of Housing and Public Works website for comprehensive information relating to pool safety laws.

What is a regulated swimming pool?

A regulated swimming pool is a pool or spa that is associated with domestic/residential premises and meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Capable of holding water to a depth of greater than 300 mm
  • Has the capacity to hold more than 2,000 litres of water
  • Has a filtration system.

Most portable/temporary pools/spas purchased from a department store are likely to also be a regulated swimming pool.

The following are not regulated swimming pools:

  • Ornamental ponds manufactured and used for ornamental purposes
  • Public swimming pools
  • Dams used for aquaculture, water storage or similar
  • Watercourses
  • Spa bath in a bathroom
  • Portable wading Pool (see the definition below).

A portable wading pool is a small pool that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Not capable of holding water to a depth of greater than 300 mm
  • A maximum capacity of 2,000 litres
  • Has no filtration system.

Swimming pool requirements

The requirements of all regulated swimming pools are as follows:

If you are uncertain and would like assistance in determining whether your pool complies with the pool safety standard you are encouraged to consult a licensed pool safety inspector. Pool safety inspectors can be found on the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website or by calling 13 93 33.

Pool owner responsibilities

Purchasing or constructing a pool or spa

  • Any new pool or spa will require a building approval issued by a building certifier for the pool or spa and compliant barrier (see the Building webpage).
  • Most portable/temporary pools/spas purchased from a department store are likely to also be a regulated swimming pool and would require a building approval for the portable/temporary pool or spa and compliant barrier in order to be installed on your property.

Requirements for pools under construction

  • When a permanent regulated pool is under construction the pool owner is required to have a warning sign in place at all times.
  • The swimming pool must not be filled with more than 300 mm of water until you have obtained a final inspection (or Form 17) from your building certifier.
  • On-the-spot infringements can be issued.

Portable pools and spas

  • Portable pools and spas can pose a serious safety risk to young children.
  • A number of child drownings in recent years have occurred in portable pools and spas.
  • Unfortunately these pools and spas are a popular summer addition to Ipswich backyards.

If your portable pool or spa can hold more than 300 millimeters of water, has a volume of more than 2,000 liters or a filtration system, the pool safety laws apply to you and you will need to:

  • Install a compliant swimming pool barrier
  • Obtain building approval
  • Register your pool or spa.

If you are selling, buying or leasing your property with a portable pool or spa, a safety certificate is required from a licensed pool safety inspector. Alternatively, the portable pool or spa can be removed.

Requirement for pool safety certificate

  • A pool safety certificate issued by a pool safety inspector is required when a property with a swimming pool is being sold or leased.
  • When leasing, selling or buying a property with a swimming pool, a pool safety certificate will be required prior to a contractual agreement being entered into, or in some cases, within 90 days of a contractual agreement.
  • There are obligations on the seller, the purchaser and the lessee and it's important to meet your requirements.
  • To ensure you meet your requirements when selling, purchasing or leasing please refer to Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
  • Pool safety certificates are valid for two years for non-shared pools - a new certificate does not need to be obtained during the currency period if the property is re-sold or re-leased.

Boundary fences and neighbours

  • It is the responsibility of the pool owner (not the neighbour) to ensure their pool complies with the pool safety standard.
  • This section should be read in conjunction with the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011. If a dispute arises in relation to boundary fences or overhanging trees/branches you may need to seek legal advice through the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
  • Boundary fences often form part of a pool barrier, in which case pool safety standards still apply to the part of the boundary fence being used as part of the pool barrier.
  • The boundary fence must be a minimum of 1.2 m high and have no climbable objects/rails within its non-climbable zone (NCZ). It is important to note that if the fence is less than 1.8 m in height, the NCZ must be on the outside of the fence (neighbour’s side). This can be difficult in that the pool owner is responsible for the pool barrier but is unable to control the actions of a neighbour and therefore has limited control of the NCZ. If the fence is 1.8m or higher, the NCZ can be on the inside of the barrier. This is preferable as the NCZ is now within the control of the pool owner.
  • If you were considering a new 1.8 m high timber paling boundary fence which was to form part of your pool barrier; it would be strongly advisable to have the rails on the outside (neighbours side). If this is not possible, the rails located on the inside of the barrier may be fitted with wedge shaped blocks to eliminate the climbable nature of the rails.
  • If the neighbour's side of the fence does not comply with the pool safety standard, the pool owner must perform work required to ensure the barrier is compliant. The pool owner will require the neighbour's consent to enter the neighbour's land to perform any necessary work.
  • For additional information relating to the pool owners requirements before commencing any work on a boundary fence please check the guidelines for pool owners.

Domestic swimming pools health and water quality

  • Poor management of backyard swimming pools can lead to health risks. Insufficient chlorination of swimming pools can lead to bacterial and algae growth that may harm swimmers. Swimming pools that are not filtrated or chlorinated may also be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Under the Public Health Regulation 2005 a person must ensure that an accumulation of water at their property is not a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • To prevent mosquitoes breeding in your pool you will need to regularly treat with chemicals (such as chlorine), keep the pool clean and operate a filtration system. This will also minimise algal growth and any buildup of bacteria.

Lodging a pool safety/health concern

  • Council's development compliance team is responsible for investigating complaints in relation to regulated swimming pool barriers.
  • Council's local laws and environmental health teams may also investigate complaints relating to health concerns arising from swimming pools.
  • If you wish to lodge a complaint please contact Council on (07) 3810 6666 - you must advise of the location of the swimming pool and the nature of your concern.

Fines and enforcement action

  • On-the-spot infringements and/or notices may be issued to pool owners for a number of breaches in relation to swimming pool safety and occupier or pool-owner requirements.
  • If you have received an enforcement notice please refer to the Show Cause and Enforcement Notices webpage.