Waterpark Designers & Engineers


Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA)

VGBA compliance solution

Ramaker & Associates is offering pool and spa owners engineering services for compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. We understand compliance services have been an unbudgeted expense and are working with owners to provide the most economical solutions for their pools and spas.

Ramaker & Associates has been providing pool design in Wisconsin since 1992, and we are very familiar with the Wisconsin pool codes and the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA) requirements. Our staff has assisted hundreds of pool owners with VGBA compliance since December 2008. We evaluate each pool and spa individually and will determine the best compliance option for the pool or spa. Some pools may not need any alterations to be compliant, some may only need to install new drain covers, and worst case scenario, some will require installation of a complete new drain system.

Following are Ramaker & Associates' steps towards compliance:
  1. Initial On-site Inspection Services  Ramaker & Associates will have a field technician perform an initial on-site inspection to determine the existing suction outlet, sump and equipment conditions.

  2. VGBA Assessment Report.  Based on the information gathered during the initial on-site inspection, Ramaker & Associates will determine the scope of construction required to address VGBA and provide a summary report of the inspection findings and recommendations for Client review and approval prior to construction plan development.

  3. Design Services.  Design documents and construction plans will be developed showing changes needed for compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act and State of Wisconsin Comm 90 Pool Code. Ramaker & Associates will submit these design documents to the State of Wisconsin for review and conditional approval. A copy of the Conditionally Approved plans will be provided to the owner.

    Upon direction from the owner/operator, Ramaker & Associates will forward the pool construction plans to a pool contractor of the owner's choice for a proposal and scheduling of the work. If the owner does not have a preferred pool contractor, Ramaker & Associates is happy to assist the owner in finding quality contractors in their area.

  4. Construction Inspection Services.  Upon completion of construction, Ramaker & Associates will perform a final inspection to confirm that the construction has been completed in substantial compliance with the State approved plans and will submit a Public Swimming Pools Compliance Statement to the State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
Contact us at 800-332-7532 for more information about how we can help you!

Below are informational links for aquatic facility owners. Please note that Ramaker & Associates does not endorse the opinions expressed in the links below, but is providing the links as a resource to all the available information for aquatic facility owners.

State of Wisconsin Information

Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA)
  • October 2011: Wisconsin Safety & Buildings Division (WI S&B) responds to CPSC changing the definition of an "unblockable" drain. Click here for a PDF.

  • July, 21, 2011: Wisconsin Safety & Buildings Division issues statement about plan submittal for replacement VGBA drain covers (see Pool Designers section). Summary: Recalled grate models may be replaced without submitting plans to the state as long as the pool basin and sump are not altered.

  • July 21, 2011: Wisconsin Safety & Buildings Division adds special note about drain cover height. Summary: All drain covers in all pool types are now allowed to extend to a height of two inches above the pool floor. This includes wading pools.

  • June 7, 2010: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a letter to the Engineering and Architectural community regarding VGBA Compliance "Letters of Conformity". In the third paragraph, the letter states:
    "All modifications made to a public swimming pool, beyond routine maintenance, require plan submittal to the Department of Commerce under Comm 90.04. Pool modifications include, but are not limited to: changing of grate models on main drains or equalizers and changing of sump size or configuration."
    The fourth paragraph addresses pools that will not require modifications or Department of Commerce plan review. It states:
    "However, there is one type of swimming pool in the state that need no changes, modifications or plan review through the Department of Commerce for the purpose of complying with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act because it does not have any submerged suction outlets. It is a reverse-flow type pool where the return water comes into the pool through floor inlets and exits through a gutter system and the pool does not have a main drain connected to the recirculation system. If it does have a drain, it must drain to waste via gravity only. The only purpose of the drain would be for emptying the pool. This is currently the only known pool type in which a "letter of conformity" can be accepted by the Department of Health because it requires no changes or submissions under either the federal requirements or the state requirements. There is no expectation for plan submittals to be made on this type of pool."

    Click here to view a PDF of the letter.

  • May 14, 2010: The Wisconsin Innkeepers Association (WIA) issued an email alerting Wisconsin pool owners that the CPSC has been as close as Rockford, Illinois checking Virginia Graeme Baker Act compliance. Click here to see the email.

  • May 3, 2010: Attention Pool and Spa Owners, please note that the CPSC is checking pools in Wisconsin for VGBA compliance (see attached letter from May 3, 2010). The Wisconsin Department of Commerce and the Wisconsin Department of Health are allowing pool and spa owners in Wisconsin to operate without VGBA compliance until July 2011. However, any pools and spas without VGBA compliant suction outlets right now are in violation of Federal Law and potential liability exists until made compliant. Regardless of the State of Wisconsin laws, the CPSC has the right to shut pools down if they are not in compliance with VGBA.

  • April 15, 2010: The State of Wisconsin approved permanent code changes for Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA) pool plan reviews and inspections, changing the fee to $350.00 per pool. If more than one inspection is needed, additional fees will be charged. Note: Properties located in the Cities of Madision, Milwaukee and Racine only pay $200.00 for plan review and a separate inspection fee to the City. View the adopted code (see page 5).

  • December 2009: The Wisconsin Department of Commerce has issued a new emergency rule for plan review fees related to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act that went into effect on January 1, 2010. The emergency rule for VGBA plan review fees is set to expire on May 30, 2010, though the State is considering making it a permanent rule. This emergency rule reduces the amount of fees collected for plan reviews and related inspections. Call us at 800-332-7532 to find out what this means for you! For more information, visit the Department of Commerce's website.

  • December 2, 2009: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has issued a letter about Virginia Graeme Baker Act Enforcement, stating deadlines for compliance with the Act. Click here to view a PDF of this letter.

  • Example of a VGBA suction
    outlet solution
  • Pools with Gravity Drains in Wisconsin: Please see the State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce's Questions and Answers web page for information regarding modifications necessary for gravity drain pools (See questions #10 and #19).

  • Click here for the Wisconsin Dept. of Commerce's June 9, 2009 revised alternate pool approval for existing pools.

  • Click here for the Comm 90 Public Swimming Pools and Water Attractions Code (February 2009) and here for the Appendix.

  • Click here for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce Safety & Buildings Public Swimming Pools Program information.

Other Recent Changes in Wisconsin Laws
Waterslide Structural Inspections

The Wisconsin Public Pool and Water Attractions Health Code DHS 172 was revised in 2007 to require inspection of waterslide structural components once every five years by a professional engineer. A copy of the inspection report, signed by the engineer, must be kept onsite.

Click here to review the current DHS 172 (February 2009) code. See DHS 172.37(2)(c) regarding waterslide inspections.

Lifeguard Staffing

Existing and future pools with play features that are greater than 6 feet in height and 10 feet in width may now be required to have lifeguards. Recent code changes and interpretations by the WI Department of Health and Commerce may force the addition of lifeguard staff where none were required in the past. The results of these interpretations can significantly increase your operation costs and liability.

State of Illinois Pool Information

  • April 11, 2012: Illinois Department of Health letter requiring inspection of pool drain sumps for 1.5d compliance

  • March 2012: Aquatics International: Illinois Seeks VGB Relief for Noncompliant Facilities

  • Illinois Dept. of Public Health Swimming Pools and Spas website

  • August 2, 2010: After a month-long investigation, ABC7 and the Daily Herald found that more than 1,000 pools in the State of Illinois are not compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. Click here for the article and video.

  • May 28, 2009: The Illinois Department of Public Health issued a letter regarding emergency amendments to the Illinois Swimming Pool and Bathing Beach Code. Click here to view this letter in PDF format. Click here to view the emergency amendments.

  • August 26, 2008: Click here for the Illinois Dept. of Public Health memo regarding the VGBA.

State of Iowa Pool Information

  • Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental Health Services Swimming Pools & Spas website

  • July 8, 2009: Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 15, "Swimming Pools and Spas" has been amended, effective July 8, 2009. Click here to view the amended code.

  • February 2009: "The Recirculator" newsletter published by Iowa's Department of Public Health discusses the VGBA. Click here to view the entire newsletter.

  • Click here to go to the Iowa Bureau of Environmental Health Services web page that details information about swimming pool construction as well as VGBA information.

State of Michigan Pool Information

State of Minnesota Pool Information

  • July 2009: The Minnesota Department of Health website gives details about pool inspections and their increased fees for swimming pool plan reviews. Click here for more information.

  • January 15, 2009: The following Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act Report to the Minnesota Legislature was released by the Minnesota Department of Health in response to a request from the 2008 Legislature to provide information in regard to the Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act.

  • Excerpt from the Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act Report to the Minnesota Legislature:
    "On June 29, 2007, Abigail Taylor suffered serious injuries at the Minneapolis Golf Club (MGC) pool in St. Louis Park that eventually led to her death. The six-year old was injured when she sat on an open drain in the wading pool; the heavy suction at the drain caused her intestinal tract to be partially removed. . . . In response to this incident, a new law [Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act] regulating the installation of anti-entrapment drain covers and other systems to ensure children or others cannot become trapped by pool drains was passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law by the Governor Tim Pawlenty on May 16, 2008."

  • January 1, 2009: The State of Minnesota now requires a professional engineer for submittal of all pool plans. Excerpt from the code 144.1222 PUBLIC POOLS; ENCLOSED SPORTS ARENAS:
    "Subd. 1a. Fees. All plans and specifications for public pool and spa construction, installation, or alteration or requests for a variance that are submitted to the commissioner according to Minnesota Rules, part 4717.3975, shall be accompanied by the appropriate fees. All public pool construction plans submitted for review after January 1, 2009, must be certified by a professional engineer registered in the state of Minnesota."

CPSC and General VGBA Information

CPSC VGBA Information

VGBA Articles and Videos

Ramaker & Associates, Inc. 855 Community Drive, Sauk City, Wisconsin 53583
Voice: 608-643-4100 or 800-332-7532  Fax: 608-643-7999
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