Welcome to the Wavelength Webpage. Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) looks forward to building a strong working relationship with you and your staff. We recommend keeping a copy of the State of Michigan Public Swimming Pool Rules available for reference as you prepare your pool for opening this spring. As always, feel free to contact us at 248-858-1312 with questions. We wish you a safe and healthy swimming season.

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Outdoor Pool Opening Procedure,

If your pool was not closed by OCHD for any reason during the 2017 season, and:

  • You have paid the OCHD inspection fee,
  • Have a current DEQ license,
  • And a satisfactory water sample result

You are eligible to open prior to an OCHD inspection. Simply fill out the "Notification of Operation" form found on page 3 of the "Seasonal Opening Checklist" and email it to OCHDpools@oakgov.com

If all the above conditions are met, you do not need to wait for OCHD approval prior to operation. Our staff will conduct the inspection soon after notification has been submitted. If your pool was closed by OCHD for any reason, please call 248-858-1312 to schedule an opening inspection.

State of Michigan Public Swimming Pool License & OCHD Annual Inspection Fee,

As a reminder, a State of Michigan Public Swimming Pool license must be renewed each calendar year and posted at the facility. An application and submittal instructions can be obtained by calling Teresa Fry, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), at (517) 284-6529 or by e-mail at fryt@michigan.gov. 

In addition, OCHD charges a $66.00 annual inspection fee per pool. The fee is required for all licensed swimming pools including pools, spas, spray pads, and therapy pools for the 2018 season and is separate from any fees that are paid to DEQ for licensure. The Environmental Services Application for Inspection/Review can be found here.

Failure to submit the appropriate fee and complete the inspection process will result in forfeiture of your State of Michigan license for the following year. Call OCHD Environmental Health Services office at 248-858-1312 with questions regarding the license and/or inspection fees. An inspection cannot be done on your pool until all fees have been paid.

New DEQ Contact,

Karen Beauchamp is now the contact person representing Oakland County with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Ms. Beauchamp can be contacted at 906-228-3901 or beauchampk1@michigan.gov

More information from DEQ regarding pools can be found here.

Tips When Preparing to Open Your Outdoor Pool,

Make sure to do the following to prepare for opening your outdoor swimming pool:

  1. Verify that you have a current license through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

  2. Pay the 2018 OCHD inspection fee. The $66 fee is required for each swimming pool and/or spa at your facility.

  3. Submit a water sample to the OCHD lab, or a DEQ certified laboratory to test for total coliform and standard plate count. Do not take a sample until the pool water has been balanced. Sample results must be –zero (0) or non-detect for total coliform and less than 200 MPN/100ml for standard plate count.

  4. Address any violations noted on last year’s inspection.

  5. If your pool was open all of the 2017 swimming pool season (you were not issued a closure order for any reason by OCHD), you may submit a pool opening checklist found here. You only need to return the last page of the form, “Notification of Operation,” to OCHD. Checklists should be emailed to OCHDpools@oakgov.com.

If you were closed by OCHD for any reason last year, you need to have an inspection prior to opening. It is best to call OCHD Environmental Health Services office at 248-858-1312, at least one week in advance to schedule an opening inspection.

Tips from the Lab,

OCHD laboratory staff has some helpful suggestions to ensure proper evaluation of your water sample. Samples should be submitted to a drop off location the same day the sample was collected from the pool or spa. Once the bottle is filled with water, it must be delivered to the laboratory within 24 hours in order to be analyzed. Remember to write legibly and submit one copy of the yellow form attaching it to the bottle with a rubber band, not tape. When attaching the form to the bottle, display the date and time on the outside so it can be read by laboratory staff. If your pool is located in Oakland County, and licensed by the DEQ, there is no fee for your water sample analysis.

The following MUST be filled out on the sample form, or the sample will not be processed:

  • Name and address - Provide this information and location name/address if different.

  • Collected by - Provide name AND phone number in the event contact is necessary.

  • Date and time collected - Place this in the space next to your name. Samples will not be processed if the date and time collected are not on the form. [NOTE- do not fill out the "Previous Sample Date" section at the top of the page. That is for a different type of sample.]

  • Pool ID number - This is the unique State ID number, beginning with 63. Fill in the box with the appropriate number. Each pool or spa has a unique number, even if multiple pools and spas are located at the same address.

  • Sanitizer type, residual level, and pH, even if the bacterial test is satisfactory, are necessary to complete the water evaluation.

Pool water samples can be submitted to Environmental Health Services on Monday and Tuesday until 4:30 pm, and on Wednesday until 3:00 pm. Call OCHD at 248-858-1312 for holiday closings and for a schedule of water sample drop off sites and times in your city.

Swimming Pool Closures,

There are several reasons a swimming pool must close. They include:

  • A mechanical failure in which the pool cannot maintain safe levels of sanitizer or ensure proper turnover time in filtration. Examples of these are sanitizer pump failure and pool circulation pump failure.

  • No sanitizer residual detected in the pool. The pool must be closed to evaluate the reason for the lack of sanitizer. Any broken equipment must be repaired; the pool must be shocked and reopened only when sanitizer levels are normalized. Hand feeding of sanitizer is not permitted.

  • No working telephone. The pool must remain closed until the phone is in proper working order. Cell phones must be pre-approved by OCHD (see article below). The emergency phone must be hardwired.

  • No lifeguard on duty, if required. The pool must remain closed until a credentialed lifeguard is on duty.

  • A break or gap in the main drain cover causing an entrapment risk. The pool must remain closed until the drain cover is replaced.

  • Lack of a qualified pool operator. The pool must remain closed if an operator is not available.

  • Consecutive unsatisfactory water sample results. The pool must be closed and shocked or drained, scrubbed and refilled (for a wade pool or spa) if 2 consecutive water sample results are unacceptable. The 3rd consecutive unsatisfactory sample will result in closure by the OCHD until a satisfactory water sample result is submitted.

  • Contamination event. The pool must follow directions outlined in the facility's Contingency Plan.

  • Enclosure issue where safety is a concern. The pool enclosure must be maintained so that unintended passage under, over, or through the enclosure is prevented. The pool must remain closed until the condition is repaired.

If a closure order is issued by OCHD, the pool must remain closed until approved to reopen by OCHD. If a pool receives a closure from OCHD at any time during the operating season, an inspection is required to open the following season.

A satisfactory water sample result, payment of the OCHD inspection fee, a DEQ license, and submittal of the Notification of Operation form is required prior to opening for the season without an inspection.

Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance,

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was revised in 2010 and implemented on January 31, 2013. The 2010 revisions require at least one accessible means of entry to a pool, spa, or wade pool when readily achievable. Two means of entry are required for pools greater than 300 square feet. Suitable means of entry include chair lifts, sloped entries, accessible pool stairs, and transfer walls.

These requirements for both newly constructed and existing public swimming pools will ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy the same activities at the same locations and with the same independence as everyone else. Enforcement of the ADA, primarily through private lawsuits, is overseen by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and through local building officials. DOJ offices can be reached at (800) 514-0301. Frequently asked questions regarding ADA design requirements for pools can be found here.

Enclosures ,

When preparing your outdoor pool for opening this spring do not forget to check the fence and gates. Refer to Rule 28 of the Michigan Public Swimming Pool Rules:  A minimum four foot tall fence, as measured from the outside, is required to surround and enclose the entire pool. More than one pool may be contained by the same enclosure; however, wade pools must be enclosed separately.

Also, it is important to remember that the fence is designed to keep people out of the pool when it is not open to the public. Thus, the enclosure must be designed to prevent passage through or under, and cannot provide any footings for climbing. Take a look at the landscaping, walls, structures, and bike racks that may be located near the outside of the fence. Do any of them provide easy access for climbing over the fence to gain entry into the pool? If so, these items may need to be removed or modified. In addition, remember gates must be self-closing, latching, and lockable. These should be checked on a regular basis. Please call 248-858-1312, if you have any questions.

Drowning: How You Can Help to Prevent It,

Almost every year, a drowning occurs at a public pool in Oakland County. What can you do as a pool operator to help prevent these tragedies?

  • Encourage pool users to always swim with a buddy.

  • Encourage parents to always watch children at and around the pool. Children should never be left alone.

  • Keep fencing in proper working order to discourage entry after hours.

  • Ensure all gates are self-closing, self-latching, and lockable.

  • Check that the emergency phone and all required emergency equipment is on hand, available and usable each day.

  • Examine the deck for trip hazards and repair promptly.

  • Keep the pool closed if water quality and clarity are not satisfactory.

  • If lifeguards are required, make sure they are stationed at appropriate locations, an adequate number are on duty each shift, and they are performing their duties as required. Lifeguard and CPR credentials must be up to date. Expired credentials are not acceptable.

  • If the pool is unattended, encourage staff to keep an eye out for unsafe use of the pool by patrons and address it immediately.

Pools without lifeguards must be extra careful. Many drownings occur in unattended pools such as hotels, apartments, and condo complexes. If you observe unsafe use of the pool, do not hesitate to act. It may prevent a tragedy.

Drain Cover Expiration and Replacement Reminder,

You may have noticed the statement preprinted on your routine pool inspection report - "Note: Replace anti-entrapment drain covers per manufacturer guidelines. Must meet ANSI/APSP-16 2011 standards" in the lower left corner. 

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007 required anti-entrapment drain covers on all public swimming pools. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) required completion of a drain replacement form shortly after the Act implementation indicating the installation of approved drain covers. Most of these drain covers expired five years after installation. OCHD urges you to check the expiration dates on your main drain covers and replace, as necessary. Completion of another form is not necessary if replacing with the same make and model. However, a construction permit may be necessary if the drains need to be cut out. For further clarification contact Karen Beauchamp, MDEQ, at beauchampk1@michigan.gov

Not All Pool Shock Chemicals are Created Equal ,

High levels of bacteria and bad water samples can worry even long time pool operators. Often, the reason why bacteria levels may not be reduced after repeat shock treatments is due to using wrong chemicals.

Many products on the market are advertised as pool shock chemicals. Some of these may be liquid, powder, or tablet. The best chemicals for reducing bacteria levels are sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) or calcium hypochlorite (granular chlorine). Stabilized chlorine, found mostly as trichlor or dichlor, contains cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid is good at reducing the impact of sun rays on chlorine in pools. Using stabilized chlorine for shocking can result in problems due to the high levels of disinfectant needed to reach appropriate contact times.

Oxidizers are another shock treatment sold. These non-chlorine compounds are often brand named with an “Oxy” in the title but may be made of potassium monopersulfate. Oxidizers change organic material chemistry leading to increased removal through filtration. They make pool water clearer by removing organic material and are sold as ‘shock oxidizers’ or ‘oxidizing shock’ treatment options. Oxidizers usually do not sanitize and should be used only to boost sanitizer performance.

Use of the right chemicals can mean the difference between an open and a closed pool. Patrons will likely appreciate quick resolution of bacteria problems.

Model Aquatic Health Code,

The second edition of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

The goals of the MAHC are to: 

  • Help prevent drowning, illness, and injury associated with swimming

  • Raise minimum standards and reduce inspection violations at public pools

  • Keep pools open to allow for more summer and year round fun 

The MAHC has not been adopted yet in Michigan. All licensed public swimming pools in Michigan must still comply with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Public Swimming Pool Rules. DEQ hopes to adopt portions of the MAHC in the near future.

Emergency Phones,

​According to Rule 65 of the MIchigan Public Swimming Pool Rules, a swimming pool owner must provide a telephone or other suitable means of communication for emergencies.  The phone must be provided in the same enclosure as the pool and/or spa or in another location if approved in writing by the MIchigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) or your local health department.  If another location is approved, the owner of the pool shall post a sign within the enclosure indicating the location of the emergency phone.  A sign shall be posted at the telephone showing the phone numbers for emergency response agencies and the name and address of the pool(s).

Some pools may choose to use emergency phones that are not landline based and are cellular in nature.  This type of phone must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be tethered/secured to remain in the pool enclosure.
  • The address of the facility must be posted next to the phone.
  • Instructions must be provided for dialing emergency response agencies.
  • A wired power source or back-up battery source must be provided.
  • A clear connection to emergency personnel must be available.

If you have any questions regarding your emergency phone, please contact the Oakland County Health Division at 248-858-1312.  If a cellular type phone is observed at your facility, our staff will review your telephone, may take a photograph of your phone, and will document if it is approved in the comments section of your inspection report.  If a pool does not have a suitable, working emergency telephone, the pool shall close until it can meet the requirements.

NEW! Maximum Sanitizer Concentrations,

​Although not law in Michigan, the 2016 Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) contains many safety and water quality standards for public swimming pools that exceed the minimum requirements found in the State of Michigan Swimming Pool Rules.  The MAHC is a voluntary guidance document based on science and best practices that an help local and state authorities and the aquatic sector make swimming and other water activities healthier and safer.

In order to better protect the health and safety of swimmers, Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) has implemented maximum sanitizer concentrations for both chlorine (Cl) and bromine (Br).  The MAHC recommends a maximum disinfectant level of 10 ppm for Cl and 8 ppm for Br.  Based on these recommendations, OCHD has established a maximum disinfectant level of 10 ppm for both Cl and Br.  If chlorine or bromine cannot be detected in a pool or if the concentrations of either exceed 10 ppm, the pool must close until the proper disinfectant levels can be achieved.  OCHD may issue a closure order during an inspection if proper disinfectant levels are not observed.

For more information on the 2016 MAHC, please click here.

For more information on required minimum disinfectant levels in Michigan, please click here.

If you have questions regarding the policy for maximum disinfectant concentrations for Oakland County pools, please contact OCHD at 248-858-1312.

Happy 10th Anniversary Of The Virginia Graeme Baker Act,

In 2007, Congress passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA) in efforts to prevent entrapment hazards in swimming pools.  The Act, effective December 19, 2008, required main drain covers in pools to be replaced with covers that did not create suction entrapment hazards.  The rule impacted every public swimming pool.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that since the Act went into effect, there have been zero drain entrapment deaths to children at public swimming pools and spas.  It is still important to regularly check drain cover condition and mandatory to replace them when damaged or on a schedule recommended by the manufacturer.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) web site has information regarding the VGBA.  This includes:

  • CPSC Drain Recall
  • MDEQ Drain Recall Information
  • CPSC Guide to Compliance
  • Pool Main Drain Replacement Form
  • Certified Main Drain Covers - Updated
  • Main Drain Issues FAQ

The Oakland County Health Division pool inspection report reminds operators and owners to replace covers per manufacturer guidelines and ANSI/APSP-16 2011 standards.

​For more information, call 248-858-1312 or email OCHDpools@oakgov.com.