I am looking for information on any states that have defined capacity limits regarding swimming pools.

By capacity limits I am referring to the number of people that are allowed to be in a facility at any given time.  This would be to eliminate any overcrowding that may occur.  

In Ohio, we do not have capacity limits for our pools.  The only exception is our indoor pools, which have limits but they are set by fire codes and not the state health department.  So we can have a 1,000 sq ft pool (outdoors) and we can invite 1,000 of our closest friends and relatives over and have a party.  We would be required to have a couple of guards on hand but none-the-less all would be welcomed at our tiny pool. 

While my example is a bit over the top, overcrowding is a real concern.  We have a lot of HOA's in our area where home builders will build a pool in a development to draw in prospective buyers.  Many times the pools are far too small to serve the development they are in.  This causes a very unsafe situation.

Two years ago my company decided to implement our own policy to deal with this.  We looked at what the CPO book suggested as well as we found another state that did have capacity limits (I believe it was Illinois but I am not certain).  We came up with our own formula and implemented it at every facility we manage.  Note: The latest addition of the CPO book no longer includes a calculation for capacity limit.

I am now going back an re-reviewing the policy and would like some feedback from around the country.  Does your state have capacity limits for your pool?   

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From the Illinois Dept. of Public Health:

-15 square feet of water surface per bather in shallow water
-25 square feet of water surface per bather in deep water, with 300 square feet deducted for each diving board or platform
-15 square feet of water surface per bather in wading pools
-Dedicated slide plunge pools are not taken into account when computing maximum bather loads
-one additional bather is allowed for every 50 square feet of pool deck area in excess of a distance of four feet around the perimeter of the pools

Also from the code:

1 lifeguard per 100 bathers or 2,000 square feet, whichever is fewer
1 lifeguard within 50 feet of a slide runout; one guard cannot be responsible for more than three slides
Texas Health Code

RULE §265.184 (n) General Construction and Design for Post-10/01/99 Pools and Spas

Shallow/Instructional or Beginning or Wading Areas
15 sq. ft. water
surface area per user

Deep Area
(Not Including Diving Area)
25 sq. ft. water
surface area per user

Diving Area
(per each diving board)
300 sq. ft. water
surface area per user

Link to Texas Health Code for Pools


Good Luck
Washington State Administrative Code (WAC)

Bather load. Owners shall ensure maximum number of bathers in the pool facility at any one time do not exceed a number determined by the formula noted under Table 041.2.

Table 041.2
Swimming Pool Maximum Bathing Load*

Indoor Shallow: SF/25 Deep: SF/30
Outdoor Shallow: SF/15 Deep: SF/30
Maryland Code of Regulations states:

19 User Load.
A. The Secretary shall determine the user load, as defined in Regulation .05B(32) of this chapter, based on the following criteria:

(1) For a pool and its deck, one individual is allowed for:

(a) Every 12 square feet of water surface in shallow areas,

(b) Every 15 square feet of water surface in areas exceeding 5 feet of water depth, excluding a diving area, and

(c) The 300 square-foot diving area required for each diving board or diving platform;

(2) For a spa, one individual is allowed for every 9 square feet of water surface; and

(3) For a therapy pool, one individual is allowed for every:

(a) Therapy station, or

(b) 20 square feet of water surface, whichever is less.

B. An owner shall ensure that the:

(1) Number of individuals in a pool or spa and on the required deck area does not exceed the user load as set forth in §A of this regulation;

(2) Number of individuals using an enclosed pool or spa area or a spectator area is in conformance with local fire code requirements; and

(3) User load of a pool or spa is posted in a conspicuous place at the pool or spa.
In Florida we do not have any limits. About ten years ago I did some research and found there were no standards anywhere. I thought it might be a good idea if we (Broward County FL) implemented capacity limits or lifeguards per so many patrons. I was told, not so politely, to mind my own business.

I think it would be a great idea if you came up with standards and published those then we might be able to start showing a precedent and maybe more facilities might jump on board with the idea. We are starting to see alot of drownings in public pools where many years ago it was somewhat unheard of. Overcrowding and staff cutbacks with guards might, I say might be a factor. I have not read all of the reports but it is something to think about. Parents also must be responsible for their children in and around water and not rely on the pool staff. I don't mind going on record as saying the pool is not a good babysitter!

I would love to see your new policy.
I began digging a little deaper and found out that ANSI/APSP has a standard on capacity limits.

If you can get a copy of it, the standard is American National Standard for Public Swimming Pools,
ANSI/NSPI-1, 2003 paragraph-6.8.

Basically its the same as Texas and Illinois

If you would like a copy of it, let me know and I can scan you the page.

Basically it says that if the local governement doesnt have a standards on load limit, the ANSI/NSPI standard should be followed.
My apologies for leaving everyone hanging on this. Things were pretty crazy this spring and summer and I did not have the time that is necessary to tackle something like this. I am back now and looking for move forward on this. I am going to put together a spreadsheet and start to track the various state laws. I will post it here once it is ready.

Thanks to everyone on your input! Hopefully together we will make pools a safer place.
I guess checking my "old" CPO workbooks (circa 1998) would not be helpful..LOL (Ah, the good old days...). I believe there was a formula used for square footage/area and depth for shallow and deep water capacity calculations.

I may also suggest that you touch base with the Greater Houston Area Chapter (GHAC) of the ARC. They used to have a great guideline published by their Health and Safety Director, which I still use! That was "I LG on the water for every 25 swimmers inside the fence." I first was introduced to this "policy" when I was taking my oriiginal ARC Water Safety Instructor (WSI) course in 1970. (Yeah, I am the "old guy in the red Guard suit")...LOL

And my answer to the HOAs who complain, "Increased LIABILITY means more supervision by LGs on the deck (cost) and more liability insurance (cost) to prevent a very BIG cost in the event of an accident or injury!!!" The HOA may not like the answer, but that is why I have NEVER had a Drowning Accident at any of my pools is over 40 years as an LG/LGI/WSI/CPO.
In Oregon we use a fairly cumbersome method:

"Public swimming pools shall be sized according to and shall not exceed the design limit of the user load functions shown below. User loads are specific in-pool loads only. Area of deep water, "D" equals the surface area of the pool greater than five feet (1.5m) deep. Area of shallow water, "S" equals the surface area of the pool less than five feet (1.5m) deep. Surface area, "A" equals the area of the entire pool.
(1) Outdoor swimming pools with a surface area of more than 2000 square feet. Max. load = (D / 27) + (S / 15)
(2) Outdoor swimming pools with a surface area of less than 2000 square feet. Max. load = A / 24
(3) Indoor swimming pools. Max. load = A / 24
(4) Spray pools, wading pools. Max. load = A / 24"

Public Spas are 10 sq. ft. per person.

Also the NSPF website has copies of every states codes or rules. Some are easier to use than others.
I took everyone's info and posted it on one page. It is attached to this post. Please take a look and let me know if you think I missed anything. I tried to keep some uniformity in the requirements to make it easier to compare them.There are some similarities but there are some differences as well. Some highlights:

I like that Illinois makes some allowances for deck space.

I think Oregon is the only state that actually defines what deep water is.

@ Jesse-I would like to see the ANSI/NSPI take on this if you can find it. I can add it to the other states and reattach it later.

Let me know what you guys think.


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