by Eric Herman

With the summer of 2011 and the great drain recall in the rear-view mirror, issues surrounding suction-entrapment accidents continue to challenge the pool and spa industry. Here senior editor and long-time industry observer Eric Herman raises some lingering questions and applies a helpful dose of common sense in an attempt to find a measure of clarity amid a decidedly confusing set of problems.

It's a subject that continues to dominate discussions in the pool and spa industry and cause no small measures of grief and frustration along the way. Any way you slice it, suction entrapment is a serious problem and until these incidents are completely eliminated, our industry is going to bear the stigma that comes along with it.

It's been nearly four decades since the CPSC began tracking


The Illinois Department of Public Health has shut down more than 500 swimming pools across the state, including 10 at Southland high schools and dozens of other area locations from hotels to condo associations to community pools.

The pools were closed as of Saturday because they were not equipped with new, safer drains. Pools that were closed include those at Argo, Homewood-Flossmoor, Mount Carmel, Reavis, T.F. South and Thornton high schools, and four Bremen Community High School District 228 schools: Oak Forest, Tinley Park, Bremen and Hillcrest.

District 228 Supt. Bill Kendall said getting the permits needed for the new drains

By News from CPSC

To the pool and spa safety community:

On September 28, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 3-2 to interpret an unblockable pool or spa drain based on the size of the drain opening and not the size of the drain cover used over the sump. This is an important decision for the pool safety community to be aware of, as CPSC continues to implement the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

The Commissioners heard from some members of Congress and families who have lost their children

CPSC Changes VGB Rule

by Scott Webb

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to reverse its earlier ruling on unblockable drains under VGB. Before the vote yesterday, an approved 18-by-23-inch drain cover could legally be used over a smaller sump in a single drain commercial pool. Now, the sump must also be at least 18 by 23 inches, or the pool will have to install other anti-entrapment measures, such as split drains, vent pipes, SVRS systems, etc.

Pools that met the old VGB criteria, using an approved drain cover over a smaller sump, will have to invest in equipment or renovations to meet the requirements of the new ruling.

At one point in discussions, a new compliance date of May 28, 2012, was proposed, but in its final statement, the CPSC announced

Students in a lifeguard class at Vernon Hills High School might have to go elsewhere for training. The pool will be closed Saturday because the school is not in compliance with a 2008 federal law requiring pool drains that prevent swimmers from getting trapped under water. (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune / September 28, 2011)


By Robert McCoppin and Amy Alderman, Tribune reporters

8:16 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2011

About 400 pools statewide are in danger of closing this weekend because they do not have legally mandated drains designed to keep swimmers from getting trapped, regulators warned Tuesday.

Some schools, park districts, hotels, and condo and apartment complexes may have to shut down their pools and hot tubs, potentially disrupting swim teams, lessons, exercise classes and recreational swimmers.

State officials said they warned pool managers about the new requirements six times over the past three years and would not extend the deadline beyond Saturday. Pools that aren't in compliance could remain closed for two months or more pending state approval of their plans.

New drains or covers that can't trap swimmers with powerful suction are required

How safe is your indoor swimming pool?

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

(CNN) -- Catherine Garceau doesn't go to the pool anymore. The former Olympic swimmer has trained at many fitness centers over the years that smelled strongly of chlorine. While most would assume that means the water is clean, Garceau now knows it's just the opposite.

After winning bronze in 2000 with the Canadian synchronized swimming team in Sydney, Australia, Garceau was a "mess." Her digestive system was in turmoil, she had chronic bronchitis and she suffered from frequent migraines.

Garceau retired in 2002 and began looking into holistic medicine. Experts suggested detoxifying her body to rid it of chemicals, including what fellow teammates used to jokingly refer to


by Scott Webb September 15, 2011 10:45 AM

We tend to think of the pool industry in terms of construction and maintenance or perhaps sanitizing, but it's the water itself that people like; it's what they're truly paying for — the joy of immersion in fresh, clean water.

If that's the real product, then helping to maintain the supply must be considered a core business interest. And in recent years, the supply of water in some areas of North America has become a cause for concern. Limited water stocks have always been an issue in the American Southwest, but the past decade has seen that traditional zone stretch far to the east.

According to a report on July 12 by the United States Drought Monitor, nearly 30 percent


by Elissa Sard Pollack September 15, 2011 11:41 AM

The "This is not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign from 1988 simultaneously associated the General Motors brand with tradition, longevity and fundamental changes for the better.

Something similar can be said of today's pool pumps. They have a lot of the same things going for them, while the newest variable-speed technology ushers in a new era. It follows that a typical pool pump service call is, as the saying goes, not what it used to be.

When many of today's pool industry veterans were newbies in the pool service business, a typical pump repair involved replacing motor bearings, capacitors or switches. Cleaning out the pump basket on older pumps meant undoing stubborn knobs or clamps. Service techs carried specialty tools, some homemade, and rusty set screws and bolts would break on the job.