A Draining Exercise

If you’ve been paying attention to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you surely noticed that we’ve been doing a lot about pools. Pool drains and their covers, to be specific.

A quick recap: in spring 2010, we interpreted the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act to allow public pool operators to comply with the law by putting an unblockable drain cover over a single main drain. But we reversed ourselves last fall over my strenuous objection that we weren’t following our own rules or federal law, and that the safety effects of the reversal were not backed up by any staff analysis (read more about it here, here, here, and here). In one small concession to responsible pool owners who relied on our interpretation, all of my colleagues joined me in voting to ask the public for comments about the effective date of the reversal.

Well, we got comments. And the vast majority of them said that the reversal was wrong and would be expensive to implement. Based on those comments, the staff recommended that we extend the compliance date by a year for pool operators who relied on the first interpretation. The Commission agreed with the staff (by a vote of 3 to 1), so responsible pool operators get at least a little respite from our haphazard regulations. I wish we hadn’t put them in such an awkward position in the first place. I hope the message gets out to them, especially since this extension happened less than two months before the effective date. In a better world, it would pay to be a conscientious planner.

You can learn more about this by reading my official statement on the vote here.

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