Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 6: Play Areas/Playgrounds and Transportation

6.3 Water Play Areas (Pools, Etc.)

6.3.4 Water Quality of Pools Pool Water Quality

Water in swimming pools and built-in wading pools that children use should be maintained between pH 7.2 and pH 7.8. The water should be disinfected by available free chlorine between 1.0 ppm and 3.0 ppm, or bromine between 1.0 ppm and 6.0 ppm, or by an equivalent agent approved by the health department. The pool should be cleaned, and the chlorine or equivalent disinfectant level and pH level should be tested every two hours during periods of use.

Equipment should be available to test for and maintain a measurable residual disinfectant content in the water and to check the pH of the water. Water should be sampled and a bacteriological analysis conducted to determine absence of fecal coliforms (e.g., Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Giardia intestinalis) at least monthly or at intervals required by the local health authority.

This practice provides control of bacteria and algae and enhances the participants’ comfort and safety. Maintaining pH and disinfectant levels within the prescribed range suppresses bacterial growth to tolerable levels.

Bacteriologic water safety must be ensured to prevent the spread of disease via ingestion of pool water. The chemicals a pool needs to maintain the required standards differ from pool to pool – and day to day. Keeping records of the pool chemistry over time can help interpret its characteristics and aid in performing the correct task (1,3).

If a stabilized chlorine compound is used, the pH should be maintained between 7.2 and 7.7, and the free available chlorine residual should be at least 1.50 ppm.

For further information, see the Model Aquatic Health Code from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2).

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), Recreational Water Quality Committee. 2009. Standard for water quality in public pools and spas. ANSI/APSP-11 2009. Alexandria, VA: APSP.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2010. Model aquatic health code.
  3. American Chemistry Council, Chlorine Chemistry Division. Pool treatment 101: Introduction to chlorine sanitizing.