Recreational Health Programs


The Alameda County Department of Environmental Health provides inspection services to ensure that public pools, spas, beaches and other water sports contact areas are maintained in accordance with Health and Safety Code standards. Follow-up inspections and routine sampling of the water from these facilities are conducted by the department to verify compliance. All new and remodeled public facilities are required to submit plans for review and approval to this Agency before starting construction.

Frequently Asked Questions

All commercial and public swimming pools or spas are required to have a permit to operate issued by this Department.   Private pools and spas that are intended for use by occupants of no more than three residential units do not require a permit from this Department.

Yes, you must contact our Department before constructing, remodeling or altering any commercial swimming pool or spa. Please call us at (510) 567-6700.  Additional information can be found on the Plan Check page.

  • Pools:   The required chlorine residual is 1.0-10.0ppm of free chlorine without CYA and 2.0-10.0 with CYA.  The minimum Bromine Residual is 2.0ppm. 
  • Spas, Wading Pools and Spray Ground:  The required chlorine residual is 3.0-10.0ppm of free chlorine with or without CYA. The minimum Bromine Residual is 4.0 ppm. 
  • The pH is required to be 7.2-7.8. 
  • Cyanuric Acid maximum is 100ppm. 
  • Pool water temperature maximum is 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

The required safety signs are as following:  Pool User Capacity Sign, No Diving Sign for pools with maximum depth of 6 feet, No Lifeguard on Duty Sign, Artificial Respiration and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Sign, 911 Emergency Telephone Number Sign, Warning Sign for a spa, Emergency Shut off Switch Sign for a spa, No Use After Dark Sign for pools with insufficient lighting, Keep Closed Sign on all gates, and Diarrhea Sign posted at all entrance.

Yes, Public pools and spas are required to have enclosures and gates that meet specific criteria.  Please contact us at (510) 567-6700.  Additional submittal information can be found on our Plan Check page.

Pools can be closed for various reasons such as improper chemical levels of chlorine and pH, fecal accidents, cloudy water, missing/loose drain covers, gates not self-closing and self-latching, fencing issues, circulation issues, and safety equipment missing or non-functioning.  Please contact our office at (510) 567-6700 for specific details.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Act) promotes the safe use of pools and spas by imposing mandatory federal requirements for the prevention of suction entrapment and drowning hazards. The Act became effective December 19, 2008 and requires specific American National Standard ASME A112.19.9-2007 safety drain covers on all public pool and spa suction and drain outlets. The Consumer Product Safety Commission administers the Act. In the state of California AB1020 became effective in 2009 and is the equivalent law adopted and enforced by the local enforcement agency representing the California Department of Public Health.

The expiration of drain covers will vary by manufacturer.  Check with the manufacturer.
VGB Guidelines

Please contact us at (510) 567-6700.  Our office hours are M-F 8:30am to 5pm excluding holidays.

Please contact us at (510) 567-6700.  Our office hours are M-F 8:30am to 5pm excluding holidays.

Natural Water Recreational Swim Areas (bay beach, lake, pond)

Alameda County Department of Environmental Health has a collaborative partnership with East Bay Regional Park District for protecting public health by monitoring and notifying the public about the water quality conditions at natural water recreational swim areas (lakes, ponds, San Francisco Bay). East Bay Regional Park District has a Water Management program which includes sampling of swim areas on a weekly basis from April to October to evaluate water quality conditions for public safety. Water sample testing is conducted at a State certified laboratory. California Department of Public Health sets the health standards for recreational beach water safety.

In California, water quality agencies used indicator bacteria categories to determine if there is an increased risk to human health. There are four categories of indicator bacteria: the total number of coliform bacteria per water sample, fecal coliform bacteria, Enterococcus and Escherichia coli. If these indicator bacteria exceed the State standards in a tested water sample, then signage is posted at those locations on the beach to notify the public. The signage uses a simple traffic signal approach which is:

  • green = good
  • yellow = caution
  • red = stop/closed

Green meets State standards, yellow exceeds State standards on one of the indicator bacteria categories and red indicates closure of the beach due to a water quality emergency. For your safety, please do not enter the water if the beach is closed to swimming.

Current water quality results at the swim beaches is posted at:

Water quality conditions in natural recreational areas change constantly. There are a few simple rules to encourage a safe and healthy swimming experience: 

  • Do not swim in the San Francisco Bay or freshwater lakes for 3 days after a rainstorm due to wind, waves, tidal action and storm runoff.
  • Pay attention to lifeguards and water quality signage and information.
  • After swimming, shower and towel dry as soon as possible.
  • Keep lake and bay water out of your mouth.
  • Plan regular restroom visits for children.
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after swimming and before eating.

Swimmers Itch

Swimmer's itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These microscopic parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). While the parasite's preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash. Swimmer's itch is found throughout the world and is more frequent during summer months. Learn more about swimmers itch...

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