Hundreds of swimming pools in Whangarei are to be reassessed for safety after the district council found it had approved pool fencing that should have failed.
The issue was uncovered when a home owner sought a code compliance for their property before it went up for sale in March.
During the inspection, it was discovered the property’s pool fence, approved several years ago, was not compliant and children could possibly get through to the pool area, said the council’s Chief Executive Rob Forlong.
This prompted the council to randomly audit a further 11 pools which had been approved – 10 failed the test.
“We found 10 of them were not compliant, a very poor result.
“We are now starting a review of all of the swimming pool fences in our database and will be contacting owners.”
He said the fault probably came down to inspection officers using more discretion than was likely appropriate.
There were more than 1220 privately owned swimming pools in the district.
Forlong said the higher risk ones would be assessed first.
“If someone was due an insection, then they will be charged as normal, but if they need to be reassessed as a direct result of this, then council will cover the charge.”
He said private swimming pool owners should no longer rely on previously granted compliance certificates and should also check for safety themselves.
“Look for places where vegetation may have grown up, changes to buildings on the property and the ones next door. Ground level changes, excavation, garden beds and new plantings or sheds or general wear and tear may have made it easier for children to get through or over the fence.”
Pool owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their pools meet the requirements of the Building Act, regardless of when they were last inspected and approved.
“Fencing rules are entirely about preventing drownings, so we want people to take nothing for granted about their pool fence,” Forlong said.
“We believe many pools over the years may have received approval even though they did not comply.”
An investigation was under way at the council as to why that might have happened.
“We need to get this sorted out in the best way possible and we have several people working on that at the moment.
“It is autumn, and many people will not be using their pools at the moment, but they will still be full of water and we all know water is very enticing to children.”
A council spokesperson said “as far as we’re aware there have been no swimming pool drownings in our district recently, and that is something that we would be made aware of.”
“The reality is that we’ve been caught out, and we need to do everything possible to make sure all swimming pools are safe going forward.”
Higher risk pools first.
“If someone was due an insectopn they will get a normal if they get one as a direct recult oif the then council will cover the charge.