Wading Pool Guidelines for Owners and Operators

Topics Discussed:

  1. Purpose
  2. Structural Design and Construction Considerations
  3. Water Quality Considerations
  4. Safe Operation
  5. Glossary of Terms
  6. References

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide direction to owners and operators of wading pools concerning the construction, operation, safety and maintenance of these facilities located within the Niagara Region.

There are several risks associated with the use of wading pools. These risks include injuries related to the physical structure and operation of the facility, as well as the risk of waterborne illnesses from exposure to contaminated water.

To reduce the risk of injury, illness or death to facility patrons, it is imperative that the owner/operator of a non-regulated recreational water facility should construct, operate, and maintain the facility in a safe manner in accordance with applicable legislation and guidance material, including this document.

2. Structural Design and Construction Considerations

Wading pools should be designed and constructed in a manner that ensures the safety of the users, by following these guidelines:

  • Natural or artificial lighting should be adequate to ensure that all areas within the water (including the main drain/grates) are clearly visible from a viewing point at or near the water edge outside of the water containing structure
  • The facility and water are free from visible matter that may be hazardous to the health or safety of those using the facility
  • The water within the holding basin is maintained at a sufficient disinfectant residual to prevent the potential spread of micro-organisms that may cause illness
  • Patrons can enter and exit the water area safely (i.e. non-slip surfaces and steps, ladders and handrails provided and secure; markings and adequate lighting)
  • Handrails where steps are provided
  • Steps clearly marked with a band of contrasting color applied along the entire juncture of the side and top of the edges of each step
  • Play surfaces and equipment designed to prevent injury
  • Where playground equipment is installed in the wading pool area, it should be appropriate for the water depth. Wading pool owners/ operators should follow the manufacturer standards and contact the Canadian Standards Association regarding compliance with the CAN/CSA-z614-2008 Children's Playspaces and Equipment playground safety standards
  • Fittings that terminate in the pool are flush with the edges or are free of sharp edges
  • Water level is appropriate to the pool design
  • A maximum water depth of 75 centimeters
  • A minimum water depth of at least 15 centimetres except for areas with sloped entry (if less than 15 centimetres in depth, consideration should be given to whether facility should be treated as a splash pad)
  • A bottom slope of less than 8 percent (8 centimetres down for every 100 centimetres length)
  • A hard surface apron or deck that surrounds the wading pool that is: at least 1 metre wide, sloped to direct water away from the wading pool and covered with a non-slip surface that may be readily cleaned and sanitized
  • A hose bib and hose for water is available and located to allow the operator to clean the pool and a 1.8 metre area immediately surrounding the deck
  • A water metre is provided that is capable of recording the volume of make-up water that is added
  • Back-flow prevention devices are needed on water supply lines
  • All water suction outlets or drains within the water-bearing structure are fitted with anti-entrapment coverings or are anti-entrapment by design and where appropriate, the suction systems are equipped with a vacuum relief mechanism or another engineered system
  • Where any facility component is powered by electricity, ground fault circuit interrupters are functioning (owners/ operators should be advised to contact the Electrical Safety Authority regarding compliance with the Electrical Code)
  • If provided, the water heater temperature is not to exceed 40°C
  • Provisions are made for the safe storage and handling of all chemicals required
  • The owner/operator maintain procedures and trains facility staff in responding to emergency incidents (e.g. fouling of water by fecal matter)
  • When the wading pool is not open for use the owner/operator should ensure that
    1. All water is removed and the drains remain open to prevent collection of rainwater; and/or
    2. The wading pool is securely enclosed by a fence and locked gate so as to restrict access by anyone other than authorized personnel (recommended minimum fence height is 1.22 metres/4 feet or in accordance with local bylaws)

3. Water Quality Considerations

  • All water used in the facility comes from a source that is free of potential disease-causing organisms or harmful chemicals or is treated prior to being circulated to ensure it is free of potential disease-causing organisms or harmful chemicals
  • A water recirculation and treatment system that recirculates the water throughout the pool to continuously filter the water and provides for the addition of chemicals to maintain suitable levels of disinfectant
  • Owners/operators should make sure that the water in the wading pool is treated with chlorine, a chlorine compound or a bromine compound at all times during the daily use
  • If using chlorine, maintain a level of free available chlorine equal to or greater than 5 milligrams per litre in the pool water at all times
  • If using bromine, maintain a level of bromine equal to or greater than 5 milligrams per litre in the pool water at all times
  • Maintain the pH level of the pool water between 7.2 and 7.8
  • Where possible, maintain the total alkalinity in the pool water at a minimum of 80 milligrams per litre
  • If using a cyanuric acid stabilizer, maintain level of stabilizer below 150 milligrams per litre. *Note, cyanurate stabilizer is not added to a wading pool or to the immediate surroundings of a wading pool that is partially or totally covered
  • An adequate water quality test kit should be available at the wading pool to accurately test the chemical parameters in the wading pool water
  • Owner/operator should be trained in proper handling and application of water treatment chemicals
  • Water clarity is sufficient to observe the bottom of all areas of the water containing structure from a viewing point at or near the water edge, including a clear view of the main drain/grates
  • If the wading pool is not drained daily, add at least 30 litres of fresh water for each user of the pool that day. In addition, consider draining and refilling a wading pool that holds less than 4000 litres in accordance with the following formula:


Total number of litres of water in the wading pool = number of days to drain and refill
(Total number of users daily, multiplied by 10)


3400 litres = drain and refill every 17 days
(20 user/ day x 10 = 200)

4. Safe Operation

4.1 General Guidelines

  • Pool area and surfaces are in clean and sanitary condition and free from obstacles or items that may cause injury
  • All gratings or drain covers are securely fastened to all pipelines
  • An emergency telephone at the wading pool is strongly recommended in order to contact emergency services

4.2 Supervision

  • Supervision for a non-regulated recreational water facility that is located within the same enclosure or near a public pool should not detract from the supervision required for the public pool under O. Reg. 565 (Public Pools)
  • Provide supervision whenever the wading pool contains water and is accessible for use
  • The wading pool supervisor should be:
    1. At least 14 years of age
    2. Familiar with the hazards associated with a wading pool
    3. The holder of a standard level first aid certificate with an issue date that is not more than three years old
    4. Be attired so as to be readily identified by the users
    5. Be trained in the wading pool's operational and emergency procedures (the owner/operator should ensure appropriate training of staff; wading pool attendant training is available through water safety associations)

Supervision responsibilities should include:

  • Determining appropriate use of facility in accordance with the setting, number and capability of users in the wading pool at any one time, such as:
    1. Use of water play toys/ equipment; and
    2. Parental or guardian supervision of individual users (e.g. children aged six years or under, or physically/ developmentally challenged persons)
  • Continuous visual observation of user safety
  • Discontinuing use of the facility when water chemistry is not within recommended levels, when clarity is poor, or a health or safety concern is identified, such as inclement weather, electrical concern, or the water becomes contaminated (e.g. fouling of the pool water)

4.3 Testing Frequency for Pool Water Quality

  • Testing for chlorine, bromine and pH should be done one-half hour prior to wading pool opening and at least once each hour while the wading pool is open for use
  • Where the level of disinfectant or pH is controlled by an automatic device, the operation of the device should be checked by doing a manual test of the disinfectant or pH in the wading pool at least once a day
  • Where the disinfection level is controlled by an automatic sensing device, the Oxidation Reduction Potential value should be above 700 mV

Maintain a log book:

It is recommended that the operator maintain and sign daily records to document:

  • The free available chlorine and total chlorine residuals or where bromine compound is used, the total bromine residuals
  • The pH values
  • Results of the daily manual test to verify proper operation of any automatic sensing device (disinfectant and pH)
  • The time of day the emergency phone was tested (where a phone is available)
  • The total number of wading pool users admitted to the pool each day
  • Where cyanurate stabilization is used, record the concentration of cyanuric acid
  • The amount of make-up water added
  • Where provided, results of the inspection of the vacuum relief mechanism
  • Where provided, note if ground fault circuit interrupter(s) functional
  • Any wading pool fouling, including time and details of draining, cleaning and refilling
  • Any emergencies, rescues or breakdowns of equipment that have occurred
  • The daily record should be retained for a minimum of one year

4.4 Emergency Procedures

Emergency procedures for wading pools should be in a place conveniently located for emergency use. It should include the following:

  • Contact information for local fire, ambulance and police services
  • The full name and address of the wading pool (including nearest intersection)
  • Location of the emergency telephone

The owner and/or operator should also maintain procedures and train facility staff in response to emergency incidents (e.g. fouling of water).

4.5 Notices

Owners and/or operators are to post the following signs that set out health and safety rules for wading pool users (owners and/or operators may include additional rules that are appropriate for their particular facility).

"Wading Pool Rules"

  • Parents or guardians should be within arms reach of their child(ren) at all times when the child(ren) are in the wading pool
  • Children should be appropriately attired for their age and continence ability to prevent fouling the pool
  • No glass containers, food or beverages are allowed in the wading pool or in the area immediately surrounding the wading pool
  • Recreational water is not intended for drinking
  • Do not enter the wading pool if you have an open sore or rash, or are experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • No person shall pollute the water in the wading pool in any manner or on the area immediately surrounding the wading pool
  • No person shall engage in boisterous play in or about the wading pool

4.6 First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is recommended to be available and located in a convenient place for emergency use. It should contain the following items:

  • A current copy of a standard First Aid Manual
  • 12 safety pins
  • 24 adhesive dressings, individually wrapped
  • 12 sterile gauze pads, each 75 millimetres square
  • 4 rolls of 50 millimetre gauze bandage
  • 4 rolls of 100 millimetre gauze bandage
  • 4 sterile surgical pads suitable for pressure dressings, individually wrapped
  • 6 triangular bandages
  • 2 rolls of splint padding
  • 1 roll-up splint
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 pairs of non-permeable gloves
  • 1 resuscitation pocket mask

4.7 Responding to Fouling of a Wading Pool

If the pool has been contaminated due to a bowel movement, vomiting or gross fouling:

  • Ensure all users leave the wading pool
  • Drain the wading pool
  • Clean and disinfect the wading pool and any equipment used
  • Refill the wading pool
  • Adjust the disinfectant level and pH
  • Check that the water is clear and chemistry is within recommended levels prior to re-opening the wading pool
  • Follow the pool fouling guidelines

5. Glossary of Terms

  • Anti-entrapment covering
    A pipe cover to prevent spray/splash pad users from being trapped by the suction of the pad drain
  • Automatic dosing device
    A chemical feeder that has valves controlled by electronic equipment to deliver needed chemicals. The electronic device (controller) receives signals from electrodes (probes) that monitor the water's properties
  • Back-flow prevention devices
    Prevents contaminated or untreated water exiting the spray/splash pad to re-enter or contaminate treated water
  • Bromine
    Is used as a disinfectant to destroy harmful microorganisms that are capable of causing disease
  • Chlorine
    Is used as a disinfectant to destroy harmful microorganisms that are capable of causing disease
  • Free available chlorine
    The concentration (parts per million, ppm) of chlorine in the water that is readily available for disinfection
  • Fouling
    Describes when the spray/splash pad becomes contaminated with fecal matter, vomit, blood or other organic material that may be harmful to a person's health
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters
    Installed in electrical outlets which comes into contact with water or wet bathers, in order to prevent accidental electrocution or electrical shock
  • Make-up water
    Potable water added to replace water lost through evaporation, backwash, swimming splash-out, and or intentional water discharge
  • Oxidation reduction potential
    Described as a value to monitor disinfectant effectiveness
  • pH
    A measure of the balance between acidity and basicity (alkaline qualities) of a solution. A pH below 7.0 is considered acidic. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. A pH above 7.0 is considered alkaline
  • Total alkalinity
    The amount of bicarbonate, carbonate, or hydroxide compounds present in a water solution. Total alkalinity is a measure of the buffering capacity of water against rapid pH change
  • Vacuum relief mechanism
    A device or valve used to prevent excess vacuum/pressure from building up in a system and preventing unnecessary suction of water

6. References

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