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VGB Drain Law

On December 19, 2007, the President signed into law the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Safety Act, named after the daughter of Nancy Baker and the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. Graeme Baker died in a tragic incident in June 2002 after the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under water. This Act was first introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL) and was supported by the Baker family and Safe Kids Worldwide.

There is an annual average of 283 drowning deaths (2003-2005) and 2,700 emergency room-treated submersion injuries (2003-2005) involving children younger than 5 in pools and spas. In addition, from 1997-2007, there were 74 reported incidents associated with suction entrapment, including 9 deaths and 63 injuries. The new law is aimed at reducing these deaths and injuries by making pools safer, securing the environment around them, and educating consumers and industry on pool safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the primary enforcement agency for this act. The act requires that modifications be made by December 20, 2008. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website is located at

The California State Department of Health Services is in the process of developing language that would place parts of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act into California State law. This however, may take some time, possibly well into next year.

In the interim, the Fresno County, Department of Public Health, Swimming Pool Program will have the following policies in place concerning split drains on public pools. These may be modified if and when the State of California enacts a new law.

Effective immediately, all new public pools and existing public pools that are resurfaced renovated, replumbed or drained for any reason including acid-washing, shall comply with the following:

New Pool Construction

All new pool construction will, as in the past, require split drains that comply with the requirements.

Existing pools with split drain(s)

For existing pools with slit drains, if the pool is resurfaced, renovated or drained for any reason, the covers/grates will need to be replaced with approved anti-entrapment covers/grates and if the pool has field-built sumps (no manufactured bowl below the cover). A plan approval is required by The Department of Health, even for just replacement covers. Drains replaced by divers will not be approved as a drained pool is required for proper inspection.

Existing pools with single drain(s)

Beginning January 1, 2009 when a pool is resurfaced, renovated or drained for any reason, the pool must be retrofitted with split drains or unblockable drain and sump. Until the state law comes out, skimmer equalizer lines are treated as a suction outlet.


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VGB Drain Law
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