Do I need a licence?
When you need an approval
Pools operating in the following situations require a licence from Council:
Your council does not have any specific information on licensing swimming pools.
When you do not need an approval
Pools operating in the following situations do not require a licence from Council:
Your council does not have any specific information on licensing swimming pools.
How to apply
To apply for a swimming pool licence, you will need to submit a complete application to Council. The following information will assist you in ensuring your application is complete and that you consider other applications that may be required for your business.
Prior to submitting your application you should ensure the site has relevant development approval to prevent your application being delayed.
- Prior to submitting your application you should ensure the site has the relevant development approval to prevent the application being delayed.
- Do you intend to, or already operate a food business? If yes, you may also require a food business licence. For further information, refer to the food business information.
- Do you intend to, or already have any advertising signs erected? If yes, refer to the advertising sign information.
- Do you intend to sell alcohol on the premises? If yes, contact Queensland Government Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.
- If you are registering a new business name you will need to contact Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
- Do you intend to build additional structures such as fences or shade awnings? If yes, you may need to obtain building approval, either from Council or a private certifier.
The applicant for a licence must be a legal entity (e.g. person(s) or company). Note - a business name or shop name is not a legal entity and cannot be the licence holder.
Application forms are available from Council offices.
If development approval has been granted, plans will not be required for this application.
Check with Council to confirm the type of certification that may be required as part of this application.
Public Liability Insurance
Whilst Council does not require you to have public liability insurance for this permit, you should research all options regarding your business insurance requirements.
Whilst it is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended that you undertake some relevant training in pool operation and life saving.
How to submit an application
Applications can be submitted (with the relevant fee) in person at Council offices or by surface mail.
Application Process - New
- Prior to submitting your application, you should ensure the site has the relevant development approval to prevent your application being delayed.
- You will be contacted should additional information be required to process the application.
- You will be notified when a decision has been made regarding your application.
- You must contact Council for an inspection and receive approval prior to commencing operation.
- When approved, you can then commence operation of your public swimming pool in accordance with the approved application.
- Council will inspect the premises on a regular basis.
Application Process - Take over existing
- You may apply for a search to confirm that there is a current approval and to ascertain the current level of compliance. This process may require written permission from the vendor.
- If the nature of the business is changing or you intend to alter the facilities, you may require development and/or building approval. Contact Council prior to the lodgement of your application as plans may be required.
- You will be contacted should additional information be required to process your application.
- When approved and there are no alterations to the premises, you can commence operation.
- If you are undertaking alterations to the premises you must contact Council for an inspection to check compliance with development approval conditions.
- When approved, Council will issue your approval allowing you to commence operations.
- Council will inspect the premises on a regular basis.
Application Process - Making changes
You are encouraged to contact Council to discuss any changes to your business.
How to comply
It is the responsibility of you and your staff to ensure compliance with all requirements of the relevant legislation. A key issue in complying is to ensure safe water quality in your pool. To assist in complying with requirements, a range of tools and resources has been developed. You are encouraged to use these tools and resources in the day-to-day operations of your business. Completed templates and checklists should be filed and stored as part of your business records.
How Council interacts with business
Council operates within a total compliance framework by incorporating education, regulation and enforcement in ensuring businesses are compliant.
The tools and resources developed by Council allow you and your staff to know what is required to ensure your business is operating lawfully. When used effectively, these tools will assist your business to minimise the impact on your customers and the environment and to avoid enforcement action.
Regulation (Inspection process)
Council is required to monitor the standard of operations in swimming pools and this is achieved through a routine inspection program.
Refer to the self-assessment checklist in tools and resources to be aware of the issues Council will be assessing when visiting your business.
If you are operating a swimming pool you must have a current approval and comply with the relevant legislation, guidelines and all conditions on your approval.
If you have difficulty complying, contact Council.
Failure to comply may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions:
- a letter being issued requiring action or work to be conducted
- a legal notice being issued requiring action to be taken or work to be conducted
- penalty infringement notice (PIN) or on-the-spot fine
- suspension of an approval
- cancellation of an approval
- pool closure
Council has a duty to investigate and respond to complaints received.
A complaint may result in an inspection of your premises to ensure you are complying.
You will be sent a notice prior to the expiration of your current approval that will require your immediate attention.
If you need to amend details on your approval or require a copy of your approval, contact Council.
Tools and resources
These links cover a range of tools and resources that can assist you to provide safe swimming facilities for your customers.
Operator Self Assessment Checklist
Black spot algae
Black spot algae is difficult to remove as it embeds in the pitted walls and floors of swimming pools and on grout between tiles. The visible black spot is only the top of the organism. This part can be removed but it will generally regrow within a few days.
Algal spores often take root on swimming pool walls and floors when the swimming pool is drained of water, and grow when the swimming pool is filled with water.
It is easier to prevent black spot algae than to control it once it has become established in your swimming pool. Black spot algae can be prevented by:
- maintaining a free Chlorine level of 1.5 ppm or greater at all times
- thorough distribution of chlorine throughout the swimming pool by adequate mixing and circulation of the pool water, especially in the corners and the deep end
- removing leaves and debris by vacuuming at least once a week to reduce the availability of nutrients and keep chlorine at high enough levels
- disinfecting the walls and floors of a drained pool with a 1 ppm solution of sodium hypochlorite.
Small clusters of black spot algae in an empty swimming pool can be controlled by putting powdered chlorine directly onto the infected area, leaving it overnight and scrubbing it with a stainless steel brush the following day. Ensure you carefully read the product instructions for personal and environmental protection. Do not use wire brushes on vinyl lined swimming pools.
If a swimming pool has a lot of black spot algae and cannot be controlled by raising the chlorine dose or scrubbing, the following procedure is recommended:
- Drain the swimming pool until only a few centimetres of water remain.
- Using a stiff bristle brush or a high pressure water jet, clean the entire surface of the swimming pool removing as much algae as possible. Be careful not to lift the paint.
- Prepare a 10:1 sodium hypochlorite solution, enough to completely wet the walls and floor of the swimming pool.
- Completely wet the entire surface of the swimming pool (protective goggles, gloves, rubber boots and overalls should be worn). Start at the shallow end and work towards the deep end.
- All surfaces infested with black spot algae should be scrubbed vigorously with the hypochlorite solution.
- Continue to wet the walls and floor with the hypochlorite solution for a further half hour before hosing off.
- If the water on the swimming pool floor is dirty it should be heavily diluted with additional fresh water allowed to drain away. This highly chlorinated wash water must then be neutralised with sodium thiosulfate before discharge. It must not be allowed to enter a waterway or stormwater as it will kill aquatic organisms. Note: 248 grams of sodium thiosulfate will neutralise 280 grams of chlorine.
- Refill the swimming pool with water and ensure the free chlorine residual is at least 1.5 ppm to 2 ppm.
For alternative pool treatments for black spot algae, contact your local swimming pool shop for products such as Black Spot Remover.
This content is also available as the black spot algae fact sheet (DOC, 617.5 KB). The information was initially developed by Redland Shire Council, and is recognised and adopted by participating Queensland Councils.
Green swimming pools
What causes pool water to turn green?
Pool water turns green because of algal overgrowth. Green algae is a common problem in swimming pools where chlorine levels are too low. Chlorine levels can become too low because of a chlorine lock, photolysis or simply not enough chlorine.
Chlorine lock occurs when there is too much cyanuric acid put into the swimming pool (cyanuric acid is the stabiliser used to prevent the loss of chlorine by the sun). Chlorine lock occurs when cyanuric acid concentrations exceed 50 ppm (the optimum concentration for cyanuric acid is 38 ppm).
Photolysis is when UV light from the sun breaks down the chlorine molecules causing chlorine to evaporate, resulting in chlorine loss. Correct amounts of stabilisers will help prevent photolysis. Chlorine levels should be maintained between 1 ppm to 3 ppm.
How to change your pool from green to pristine
To rid your pool of algae try the following:
- Vacuum any dead or brown algae from the swimming pool floor as this will help maintain your chlorine levels by reducing the nutrients in the water. Backwash the filter to remove any algae or nutrient material.
- If you use a water stabiliser, check your stabiliser concentration. If it is more than 50 ppm, empty some water out of the swimming pool and refill it with fresh water until the stabiliser concentration is around 38 ppm. If you don’t have a test kit, your local pool shop can test the water for you.
- Check your chlorine levels. If your chlorine levels are below 0.5 ppm, there is not enough chlorine to kill the algae.
- Shock dose the swimming pool to 10 ppm, keep your filters running and do not use your pool until the chlorine level falls below 3 ppm.
- Check your chlorine levels often to ensure at least 1 ppm concentration is maintained. If using a stabiliser again, adjust your chlorine concentration to at least 2 ppm.
What if the water is beyond saving?
If your swimming pool has not been maintained for a long period of time it will probably have a high level of algal growth and be a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. Your swimming pool may require draining and cleaning.
This content is also available as the green swimming pools fact sheet (DOC, 615 KB). The content was initially developed by Redland Shire Council, and is recognised and adopted by participating Queensland Councils.
Safety and signage
Drowning Prevention information is not “for someone else”. It is for you. Because only by increased awareness and effort can we reduce some very alarming statistics.
Drowning is one of the largest causes of accidental death for children under the age of 5 years. Learn how to help prevent these unfortunate accidents by making your pool or spa safer.
Councils have certain responsibilities in accordance with their local laws. The object of these local laws is to generally ensure that swimming pools generally comply with essential standards of health and safety.
- If you currently have, or have had diarrhoea in the last 14 days, you should not enter a swimming pool.
- Use the toilet, shower and soap before entering a pool.
- Avoid swallowing/drinking pool water.
- Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing nappies, using soap.
- Do not allow babies, toddlers or incontinent persons to enter the water with soiled nappies or naked. Use of waterproof pants might be considered.
- Do not change nappies beside the pool or rinse an undiapered child in the pool.
- Accidents can happen. If you or your children are at somebody else’s pool and don’t quite make it to the toilet please tell the occupier immediately.
- Never leave a child alone out of eye contact supervision in or near the pool or spa – not even for a second.
- Young children should never be considered water safe despite their swimming skills, previous instruction or experience.
- Access to the pool or spa should be limited by fencing and locked doors or gates in accordance with the Queensland Government guidelines for Swimming and Spa Pool Water Quality and Operational Guidelines.
- Do not place objects (e.g. chairs or tables) near the pool or spa fence that would allow a youngster to climb over. Tree limbs and low overhanging roofs should be removed or made accessible.
- A float line stretched across the pool indicating where the deep end begins can avoid a dangerous excursion by young children over their heads.
- A clear view of the pool or spa from the house should be assured by removing vegetation and other obstacles.
- Reaching and throwing aids should be kept on both sides of the pool. These items should remain stationary and not be misplaced through play activities.
- If you use a pool or spa cover, carefully read the manufacturer’s directions for safe installation, use and maintenance. Always completely remove the cover before using your pool or spa, to avoid the possibility of anyone being trapped under the cover. Drain any standing water from the surface of the cover. An infant or small child can drown even in the smallest amount of water. Be especially alert for the potential for drowning accidents if you use any of the lightweight, floating pool or spa covers. These covers are not solid and no one can crawl or walk on them. They are not for safety.
- Teach your children good pool or spa safety habits: no running, pushing playmates, no jumping on others, no diving or jumping in shallow water or ‘dunking’.
- Do not rely solely on plastic inner tubes, inflatables, armbands or other toys to prevent accidents.
- Keep toys, particularly tricycles or wheel toys, away from the pool or spa. A child playing with these could accidentally fall into the water.
- Do not allow anyone of any age to swim without a ‘spotter’ nearby. Examples of good safety behaviour by adults are important for young children.
- During social gatherings, be certain that someone has the major responsibility for watching the children and swimmers at all times.
- Do not permit playful screaming for help (false alarms), which may mask a real emergency.
- Teach your children the most effective way to get out of the pool or spa quickly.
- Do not allow your child to swim immediately after eating a heavy meal.
- Do not allow swimming during thunder or other storms.
- Do not allow glass in the pool or spa area.
- Do not allow the use of drugs or alcohol by persons using the pool or spa, or in the pool or spa area.
Prepare for an Emergency
- Poolside rescue equipment, including a ring buoy with an attached line and/or long handled hook, should be available to assist in removing victims from the water. This equipment should never be used for play.
- Emergency procedures, particularly a resuscitation sign should be clearly written and posted in the pool area.
- In case of an emergency:
- Dial the emergency telephone number 000.
- Give your name, location, and telephone number you are calling from.
- Tell what happened and how many people need help.
- Don’t hang up the phone until after the emergency operator does.
- Adults in the family should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is the combination of rescuer breathing and artificial circulation for victims off respiratory or cardiac arrest as a result.
This content is also available as the pool safety and signage fact sheet (DOC, 617.5 KB). The content was initially developed by Gold Coast City Council and is recognised and adopted by participating Queensland Councils.
Most concerns about swimming relate to drowning, diving injuries, and sunburn. Less concern is paid to getting ill from contaminated water. Be ahead of the crowd by learning more about recreational water illnesses (RWIs) and how to protect yourself and your family when swimming. Protecting swimmers and their families from RWIs is the reason that chlorine and pH levels should be regularly checked.
What does chlorine do?
Chlorine kills germs in pools—but it takes time to work. Therefore, it’s important to make sure chlorine levels are always at the recommended levels. Learning how to test your pool water will allow you to identify the chlorine residual and demand in pool water. More frequent testing is needed if there is heavy bather load. Listed below are some helpful definitions that will assist you in understanding the terms and tasks of applying chlorine-based sanitisers.
- Free available chlorine (FAC). The portion of the total chlorine remaining in chlorinated water that has not reacted with contaminants. Make sure your test kit can measure FAC; many only test for total chlorine.
- Combined available chlorine (CAC) or chloramines. The portion of chlorine in the water that has reacted and combine with ammonia, nitrogen containing contaminants and other organics such as perspiration, urine and other swimmer waste. Some chloramines can cause eye irritation and chlorine odours.
- Total chlorine. The sum of both the free available and combined chlorines.
- Forms of chlorine commonly used in pools. Sodium hypochlorite (liquid bleach), calcium hypochlorite (granular or tablet), chlorine gas, chlorinated isocyanurates.
- Parts per million (ppm). Measurement that indicates the parts of a substance, such as chlorine, by weight in relation to one million parts by volume of pool water.
- Shock treatment. The practice of adding significant amounts of an oxidising chemical to water to destroy ammonia, nitrogen-containing and organic contaminants. Adding chlorine as a shock treatment can also control algae and bacteria, but read the label to make sure that your product can do this.
Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions printed on the chlorine treatment package. Test the water regularly – it’s a simple process to use a test kit. You want to maintain water balance by measuring:
- free available chlorine (FAC), which should never fall below 1 ppm
- total chlorine, to ensure that combine available chlorine (CAC) levels are less than 0.2 ppm
- the pH level to keep it between 7.2 and 7.8, indicating that the chlorine is working effectively
- total alkalinity to make sure that pH level stay steady
- calcium hardness to protect pool surfaces from corrosion.
Why does chlorine need to be tested regularly?
All sorts of things can reduce chlorine levels in pool water. Some examples are sunlight, air, debris and material from swimmer’s bodies. That’s why the levels must be routinely measured. However, the time it takes for chlorine to work is also affected by the other part of the disinfection team, pH.
Why is pH important?
Two reasons, first, the germ-killing power of chlorine varies with pH level. As pH goes up, the ability of chlorine to kill germs goes down. Secondly, a swimmer’s body has a pH between 7.2 and 7.8, so if the pool water isn’t kept in this range then swimmers will start to feel irritation of their eyes and skin. Keeping the pH in this range will balance chlorine’s germ-killing power while minimising skin and eye irritation.
Contrary to what most people think, a strong chlorine smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool but actually a red flag that a super dose of chlorine (shock treatment) may be required to correct the problem.
Shock treatment adds a larger than normal amount of oxidising chemicals to pool water. This additional dose destroys organic contaminants and oxidises ammonia and nitrogen compounds to rid the area of irritating chloramine odour and, if chlorine is used for the purpose, to sanitise the water. Many chlorine shock products also provide usage instructions for destroying algae and bacteria, which can be an added benefit. Shocking should be done with the pump and filter operating, but after sundown to avoid the loss of chlorine to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Superchlorination is another term that is sometimes used for shock treatment with chlorine products when 5 or more ppm of FAC is added. This mode of shock treatment – in addition to oxidising undesired wastes – is used to rid the pool of algae and bacteria that might be concealed in filters and hard-to-sanitise areas. Superchlorination also eradicates chloramine odour. Super chlorination should achieve so-called breakpoint chlorination - when there is enough extra chlorine to consume the irritating chloramines and the test for free available chlorine and total chlorine will give the same value.
This content is also available as the pool water quality fact sheet (DOC, 618.5 KB). The content was initially developed by Gold Coast City Council and is recognised and adopted by participating Queensland Councils.