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Residential Swimming Pools - Requirements, Permits and Safety

The Anne Arundel County Property Maintenance Code requires each owner and occupant of a property to provide adequate barriers around residential swimming pools to safeguard residents against health and safety hazards, including accidental drownings and near-drownings.

A residential swimming pool is any structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or other use that contains water over 24 inches in depth and is located at a single- or two-family dwelling. A residential swimming pool includes inground, aboveground, and onground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.

What requirements must be met if I own a residential swimming pool?

  • Barrier Requirements. A fence, wall, building wall or other approved barrier must be provided if you own or occupy a dwelling that has a residential swimming pool. The barrier must completely surround the residential swimming pool and prevent individuals from entering the swimming pool or pool enclosure area. Spas equipped with a safety cover are exempt from the barrier requirements. For more information, visit www.aacounty.org/IP/Resources/PoolBarrierRequirements2012.pdf and www.aacounty.org/IP/Resources/PoolLadderAG.pdf.
  • Height Requirements. The fence, wall, building wall or other approved barrier shall be at least 48” (or 4’) in height and shall comply with the Anne Arundel County Building Code.
  • Gaps or Openings. Gaps or openings between the rails or railings of the fence, wall, building wall or other approved barrier shall not be greater than 4” or allow passage of a 4” diameter sphere.
  • Access Gates. Access gates shall be self-closing, self-latching and equipped with a locking device.
  • Aboveground Swimming Pools. For aboveground swimming pools, the ladder or steps shall be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access to the swimming pool, or a barrier must be provided that surrounds the ladder or steps that meets the above requirements.

What permits are required before I can construct or repair a fence around a residential swimming pool?
Before a fence, wall, building wall or other approved barrier is constructed or repaired, the property owner or occupant is responsible for ensuring that a building permit and construction plans are submitted to:

Anne Arundel County:
Permit Application Center
2664 Riva Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
410-222-7700
City of Annapolis:
Dept. of Neighborhood & Environmental Programs
160 Duke of Gloucester Street, Room 202
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
410-263-7946

What constitutes a violation?
A violation exists when a residential swimming pool is found without adequate barriers that surround the pool to prevent individuals from entering the swimming pool from outside the pool area or from outside the property.

How do I file a complaint?
Residents may file a complaint by contacting the Department of Health at the number listed below. The complaint will be investigated within 10 business days. The public may contact the Department of Health following this timeframe to receive updates on the inspection results and any enforcement actions.

What if a homeowner or tenant fails to comply with the above requirements?
Failure to comply constitutes a violation of the Anne Arundel County Property Maintenance Code Supplement, Section 302.7 Accessory Structures, and is subject to civil fines of $125 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third or any subsequent violation. Citations may be issued for each violation and for each day the violation continues to exist. In addition, the Health Officer may order a person to take immediate action to abate a health or safety hazard or may take direct action to abate a health or safety hazard if the person responsible cannot be contacted or cannot or will not take immediate action to abate the hazard.

What other potential hazards exist?
Suction entrapment hazards exist for all types of swimming pool settings, including residential swimming pools and spas. To reduce this hazard, the Department of Health recommends residential swimming pools be equipped with drain covers that meet the standards set by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. For more information, see www.aahealth.org/programs/env-hlth/pools/safety-act. In addition, swimming pools can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes where pool water is stagnant and remains uncirculated. To reduce the risk of illness, swimming pool water must be circulated using a pool pump and filter.

In addition to the mandatory requirements, what are some other safety precautions?
The Department of Health recommends other safety precautions to prevent drowning, especially among young children. These precautions include a fence around all sides of the pool, covering or locking pools when not using them, and using door, gate and pool alarms. Most importantly, NEVER leave children unattended in or around a pool. Drowning is a leading cause of death among children and can happen in only seconds. Visit www.safekids.org to learn how to create safer pool and spa environments for children and what you can do to make your home pool safer.

Where can I obtain more information?
Housing and Food Protection Services Program, Anne Arundel County Department of Health, 3 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, 410-222-7364