Frequently Asked Questions: Recreational Water


Q: Is there a list of training providers? If not, what is the standard for deeming an operator to be trained as required in the regulation?

A: Operators of public pools and spas must be trained in the safe operation of the facility. The requirement in the regulation for operator training is new for operators of public pools. There is no specific training course identified at this time, however the regulation specifies that the operator must be trained in water facility operation and maintenance, filtration systems, water chemistry and all relevant safety and emergency procedures.

Water quality

Q: What are the requirements for water chemistry?

A: Section 7 (8)(9)(10) of Ontario Regulation 565 sets out new upper and lower limits for water chemistry parameters including chlorine/bromine, pH, total alkalinity, cyanuric acid and oxidation reduction potential (ORP).

Water Chemistry Requirements
  Indoor Pool Outdoor Pool Spa Wading Pool Splash Pad (recirculating systems)
FAC or Total Bromine 0.5–10 ppm
2–4 ppm
1–10 ppm
2–4 ppm
5–10 ppm
5–10 ppm
5–10 ppm
5–10 ppm
1–10 ppm*
2–10 ppm*


7.2–7.8 7.2–7.8 7.2–7.8 7.2–7.8*
Total alkalinity 80–120 ppm 80–120 ppm 80–120 ppm 80–120 ppm 80–120 ppm*
Cyanuric acid Not used Less than 60 ppm (only if pool uncovered) Not used Less than* 150 ppm Less than* 150 ppm
ORP 600–900 mV 600–900 mV 600–900 mV 600–900 mV 600–900 mV*

*These values are not specified in the regulation; however, for safe operation of the facility we have adopted them as best practice.

Q: Why are there now upper limits for Free Available Chlorine (FAC) and total bromine?

A: Upper limits have been set to ensure operators can still accurately measure chemical parameters. For example, issues have arisen when sanitizer levels are extremely high and operators cannot measure FAC and continue to add more sanitizer without realizing that the test reagent is bleaching out. Where lower maximum levels are stated on the product label by the manufacturer, these levels should be followed.

Q: What if my total alkalinity is outside of the prescribed range?

A: While maintaining proper total alkalinity (TA) levels within the required range is important in the operation and maintenance of the pool (i.e., preventing pH bounce, scaling and corrosion of equipment) it is not critical to the safety of the bathers. If your TA is outside of prescribed range this will show as a non-critical item on your inspection report.

Q: How often do I have to manually test my water chemistry?

A: You must manually test the water chemistry 30 minutes before opening to the public and every 2 hours during operation, unless you have an automatic sensing device, in which case you must test every 4 hours during operation.

Q: What is the definition of an automatic sensing device?

A: Section 1 (1) gives the following definition for automatic sensing device:
“Automatic sensing device” means a device that,

  1. Determines and continuously displays,
    1. Sanitizer residual in a public pool or public spa’s water, and
    2. Potential hydrogen (pH) value of a public pool or public spa’s water, and
  2. Regulates the operation of chemical feeders to maintain sanitizer and pH levels in accordance with this Regulation”.

Q: What if my system only displays ORP and pH values? Does this still meet the requirements for an automatic sensing device?

A: Yes. Manual testing is required 30 minutes prior to opening and then every 4 hours during operation.

Q: Why is there a maximum level set for cyanuric acid?

A: Cyanuric acid (CYA) is used to help maintain sufficient levels of FAC in outdoor pools by protecting the chlorine from UV degradation. Studies have shown however, that when levels of CYA are greater than 60 ppm, the contact time required to inactivate microbial contaminants in the water is substantially increased, therefore decreasing the effectiveness of chlorine as a sanitizer. CYA is not to be used in indoor pools, partially covered pools or spas.


Q: Are cell phones an accepted emergency phone at public pools and spas?

A: No. Public pools and spas must ensure there is a working emergency telephone in accordance with subsection 16(1) of the regulation. However, for wading pools, the regulation only requires that a device for emergency communication be provided, which may include a cellphone.


Q: How can public pool operators determine if children are able to swim to comply with the new admission standards?

A: Swimming competency tests should be administered by lifeguards and are used to evaluate the skill level of swimmers before entering certain/deeper parts of the pool or water. Operators should consult with experts about specific processes that will work at their facility.

Q: What is a traditional swim test?

A: A child under age 10 is assumed to be a “non-swimmer” upon admittance to the pool, which is why Reg. 565 (Public Pools) requires a guardian or designated person to supervise them. A child ages 6 to 10 years may be determined to be a “swimmer” if they are able to demonstrate comfort in the water and pass the facility swimming competency test.

Safety equipment

Q: I operate a class B pool do I have to have a buoy line?

A: Yes. If you have a pool that has a slope greater than 8 percent a buoy line must be available.  

Q: How do I know if my pool has a slope that is greater than 8 percent?

A: You should check with your local building department. The Ontario Building Code requires all public pools to have hooks for a buoy line where the pool slope measures 8 percent or greater.

Q: How do I measure the slope?

A: For class B pools, to calculate the slope of the steepest part of the pool for purposes of determining whether a buoy line must be conveniently located for emergency use, divide the difference in depth between the shallow and deep ends of the slope, by the distance between the two points, then multiply by 100.


Q: When should I close my pool?

  • If sanitizer levels are too low
  • If pH is outside of allowable range
  • If unable to observe black disc because of poor water clarity
  • If there is no black disc
  • If there is no safety equipment available