Aquatic Health & Safety

Public Swimming Pools, Bathing Beaches,
and Recreational Aquatic Spray Grounds

Children, adults and families enjoy swimming and playing in recreational waters, especially during the hot summer months.  Tens of thousands of residents and visitors of Rockland patron our public pools, spas, bathing beaches, and recreational spray grounds every year.  The popularity of aquatic activities are growing and we currently have hundreds regulated facilities and operations in our county.  Improper design, operation and/or supervision of bathing facilities can create hazards that endanger public health and safety.

Swimming_Pool_01.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that "for children ages 1-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death." The CDC lists lack of supervision and lack of barriers as some of the main factors that affect drowning risk. Many of our public pools, including those at day camps, are enjoyed by children and it is imperative that these facilities provide a safe environment for what can potentially be a dangerous activity. In addition to safety concerns, improper operation can lead to disease outbreaks and recreational water illnesses (RWIs).  RWIs can be caused from germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols, or having contact with contaminated water in bathing facilities.  RWIs can also be caused by chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems (for more information on RWIs visit the CDC website).  Proper operation, treatment, and facility design can reduce RWI risks.

The dedicated staff that implement our program are responsible for regulating the public bathing facilities to protect patrons for injury, illness, and death.  The primary program activities include routine comprehensive facility inspections; periodic facility safety plan review and approval; drowning incident investigation; coordination of formal enforcement action; permitting operation at facilities and closing facilities when public health hazards exist; review and approval of engineering design and installation for new systems; complaint response and investigation; and providing technical guidance to owners, operators, lifeguards, contractors and consultants.

Swimming_Pool_02.jpgThese efforts ensure that our bathing facilities are being operated, supervised, designed, and installed in accordance with the regulations that are in place to protect health and safety.  Our staff immediately close any operation that violates code requirements that present a public health hazard.  Our goal is to have zero drowning incidents, near drowning incidents, and recreational water disease outbreaks in Rockland.  Should these incidents occur, our staff is trained to investigate, in coordination with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), to identify and respond to the causes and provide a safe bather environment.

The minimum standards for the regulated swimming pools, bathing beaches and recreational aquatic spray ground are set by the NYSDOH.  These regulations are implemented and enforced locally by the Rockland County Department of Health.  We are compelled to do everything we can to prevent injury and illness related to bathing facilities in Rockland County.

Renting your pool

Do you suspect illegal pool use? Use our confidential complaint form to report suspected illegal pool rental.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is renting out a pool a violation of the law?
The New York State Sanitary Code (6 NYCRR Part 6, Subpart 6-1) requires that all pools, except those that are only used by the owner/maintainer’s family and friends, and certain pools used for medical needs, must have a County Health Department permit for operation. When you rent a pool, it is generally rented to strangers (who rents a pool to family or friends?). In that case it needs to have a permit. Most residential pools do not have Department of Health permits.
Can strangers or the general public use my pool if I do not charge them?
Even if you do not charge, letting the general public use your pool, with or without rent, requires that you get the permit required by the Sanitary Code.
What happens if people who are not my family or friends, or other members of the general public, use my pool without having a permit for the pool?
Letting strangers or other members of the general public use your pool without having a permit for the pool is a violation of the New York State Sanitary Code. Violations of the Sanitary Code are enforced by the County’s Department of Health. If you are found to be allowing strangers or the general public to use your pool, and you do not have the required permit, the Commissioner of Health can fine you up to $2,000 per day.
I advertised my pool for rent, but never rented it out, can I be fined for that?
No. You cannot be fined or penalized for just advertising your pool for rent. You can only be fined if strangers or the general public actually use it and you do not have the required permit for the pool. Also, if you do get a permit, you can be fined if you violate the conditions of the permit or the Sanitary Code requirements for permitted pools.
Who decides who are strangers to me and who are my friends?
The County Department of Health will conduct a hearing. After looking at the available facts, the Commissioner of Health will make a decision, based upon the evidence at the hearing to decide if you needed a permit. One of the questions to be determined by the Commissioner of Health in a case about using an unpermitted pool, would be whether the people using the pool were family and friends, or strangers to you.
I don’t like these rules, how can they be changed?
The rules are set by the New York State Sanitary Code. The New York State Sanitary Code is made by the New York State Department of Health. If you do not like the rules, you will have to communicate that to the New York State Commissioner of Health, at or New York State Department of Health, Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237.

Helpful Resources:

Forms & Applications