Safety siren, mandatory leashes and more lifeguards make new California wave pool bill

A new California bill calls for wave pools, now termed “wave basins” to create a set of guidelines separate from swimming pools and other amusement park facilities. The regulations for wave basins will include specific operational guidelines to cover operators, daily water quality testing (for pH balance and clarity) and daily maintenance and cleaning.

There will be yet another committee hearing in early August following California State Assembly’s July 7, 2021 recommendation to pass the latest iteration of  Bill 441. The bill, initially introduced by Independent Assembly Member Chad Mayes of Palm Springs in February of this year, lays out health and safety regulations for the ever-growing number of wave pools across the state. 

The move follows the September 30, 2020 veto by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsome of a separate bill advocating a re-terming of “wave pools” to “wave basins”. At the time of the veto, Newsome cited concern for a lack of clear regulation standards, essentially creating a loophole in health and safety regulations for “wave basins” like Lemoore’s  Kelly Slater Wave Ranch.

“Wave pools”, on the other hand, fall under the same watchful safety codes as a public swimming pool. In a September 2020 statement, Newsome laid out his concern stating that the change saying, “(it) lacks necessary public health and safety protections. It would exempt wave basins from several health and safety regulations, including worker protections overseen by the Department of Industrial Relations.” 

wave pool regulations
Wave basins (wave pools) will follow their own unique set of guidelines, similarly to how FlowRiders have their own standards to ensure safety

The current bill is now establishing those regulations for wave basins, creating a set of guidelines separate from swimming pools and other amusement parks. Outlining wave basin-specific protocol will lead to clearer and more specific health and safety codes covering everything from water quality and testing to operational standards and guest safety. 

The bill calls for similar coding as pools, but includes specific operational guidelines such as wave basin operator on hand at all times, daily water quality testing for pH balance, checks for water clarity to prevent injury, and daily maintenance and cleaning. Guests can be sure that all facilities will have working, clean including restrooms and water fountains on the property.

Safety measures to keep guests safe include a certified lifeguard for every ten pool members and life-saving equipment on sight at a First Aid Station equipped with a stretcher, AED, and additional life-saving gear. There will also be an alarm that sounds before the start of wave operation preventing injury. All patrons must wear leashes while in the basin and only surfboards, bodyboards, or other recognized board is allowed to be used. Minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied to the park by an adult and animals are not permitted. Patrons refusing to follow the rules will be fined up to $1,000 and may be charged with a misdemeanor. 

If you want more info on Bill 441, visit here