Ensuring the safe use of public swimming pools and spa pools with the Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2022.

The Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2022 defines and details requirements for public swimming pools and spa pools.

What is considered a public swimming pool or spa pool?

A public swimming pool or spa pool is any structure that is used or intended to be used for human bathing, swimming or diving to which the public is admitted, whether free of charge, on payment of a fee or otherwise. This includes pools:

  • to which the public is admitted as an entitlement of membership of a club
  • provided at a workplace for the use of employees
  • provided at a hotel, motel or guest house or at holiday units, or similar facility, for the use of guests
  • provided at a school or hospital
  • situated at private residential premises used for commercial purposes

A spa pool includes any structure (other than a swimming pool) that holds more than 680 litres of water, is used or intended to be used for human bathing and has facilities for injecting jets of water or air into the water.

Water play parks and other recreational aquatic structures, including water slides and any interactive water feature or fountain that is intended to be bathed in for recreational purposes are not declared to be a public swimming pool or spa pool if they use a public water supply, do not use a recirculation system and do not store water.

A natural swimming pool is a swimming pool that contains only untreated water that is supplied directly to the pool from the ocean or other natural water source and does not have a circulation system. Although natural swimming pools are exempt from the operating, notification and registration requirements for swimming pools, the Public Health Regulation 2022 provides powers for temporary closure orders and directions to take action if a pool is a risk to public health.

What is required of public swimming pools and spa pools?

The existence of public swimming pools and spa pools must be notified to the local council in the approved manner prescribed by the Public Health Regulation 2022 by submitting a Notification of premises where a public swimming pool and/ or spa pool is installed.

Public swimming pools and spa pools must be disinfected with either chlorine or bromine approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA website provides information on approved chemicals.

Public swimming pools and spa pools must meet prescribed operating, monitoring and recordkeeping requirements as detailed in Schedule 1 of the Public Health Regulation 2022.

The new Public Health Regulation 2022 commenced on 1 September 2022 and has removed the requirement to maintain a specified oxidation reduction potential for pools using an ORP system. ORP systems can still be used to monitor and control disinfection provided the required disinfectant levels and monitoring (i.e., chlorine or bromine) in Schedule 1 are met.

Public swimming pools and spa pools operators should record daily monitoring in a Daily Sample Log Sheet and records must be kept for 6 months.

NSW Health recommends that public swimming pools and spa pool inspections are conducted using the Pool Inspection Report template.

Improvement notices and prohibition orders can be made, and penalties may apply if these requirements are not followed. Improvement notice and prohibition order templates are available on Forms and templates.

Managing public health risks in public swimming pools and spa pools

NSW Guidelines for Public Swimming Pools and Spa Pools - draft 2022 will assist public swimming pool and spa pool operators to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2022 and to manage public health risks. The Guidelines also provides advice to local and state government environmental health officers to help fulfil their regulatory and advisory roles.

Public swimming pool and spa water quality incident response protocols

Occasionally incidents affect swimming pool and spa pool water quality. These may include faecal or vomiting contamination incidents, suspected illness incidents or failure to meet microbiological parameters.

The following response protocols provide guidance on managing swimming pool and spa pool water quality incidents:

Cryptosporidium and/or general suspected illness or possible outbreak

Where a state or council environmental health officer suspects or confirms a public swimming pool and spa pool has been linked to illness, or an outbreak of illness (including by Cryptosporidiosis), all pools in the facility should be disinfected as per the recommended remedial steps in the relevant incident response protocol above.

This requirement may not apply if a facility has a system that is validated to treat Cryptosporidium risk and it can be demonstrated to have been operating within the validated parameters during and since the contamination event. Note that Cryptosporidium has been singled out since it is the most common reported source of illness or outbreak associated with public swimming pools and spa pools in Australia.

Swimming pool and spa pool risk management plans

NSW Health recommends public swimming pools and spa pools use a swimming pool risk management plan to help protect public health, especially if using a water supply other mains drinking water such as rainwater or other raw water supply that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

NSW Health's Swimming Pool Risk Management Plan template in conjunction with the NSW Guide for Developing a Swimming Pool Risk Management Plan 2022 can be used to develop a plan.


Current as at: Friday 23 September 2022
Contact page owner: Environmental Health