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Quality of Water in Public Swimming Pools – Regulatory Requirements and Supervisory Bodies in Bulgaria



In Bulgaria, there are a number of requirements and standards in place to ensure the quality of water in swimming pools, the safety of facilities, and the quality of treatment chemicals.


In this article we will give more details about the respective standards and regulatory requirements and below we will focus particularly on the mandatory provisions and regulations on a national level.


We are going to make a brief overview of Ordinance No.34 on Hygiene of Sports Facilities and Equipment, as it turns out to be the only regulatory act in force in Bulgaria which provides for the quality of the water in public swimming pools.


What are the water quality requirements for public swimming pools?


Both outdoor and indoor swimming pools are visited by many people. In order to ensure the safety and health of swimmers, it is important that those pools are managed responsibly, maintaining excellent hygiene standards.


The Ordinance establishes specific values regarding the chemical composition of the water. These values should be monitored on a daily basis by the individuals, responsible for managing the respective public pool.


The requirements include checking the following parameters as well as their limit values in order to ensure a healthy pool environment:

  • pH – between 6.5 and 8.5;
  • Oxidizability (Permanganate index) in mg/dm3 of oxygen – up to 3.0;
  • There must be no ammonia and nitrates in the water;
  • Levels of iron and manganese must not exceed 0.1 mg/dm3 for each;
  • There must be no presence of toxic substances exceeding twice the limits applied to drinking water;
  • Residual active chlorine (in mg/dm3) – 0.2 to 0.6 (combined) and 0.2 to 0.5 (free).


Regarding the microbiological qualities of the water, which ensure its epidemiological safety, the following parameters and their respective values should not be exceeded:


  • Escherichia coli titer and total coli titer – more than 100 ml, microbial count – up to 100 colonies;
  • Staphylococcus (titer) – more than 10 ml;
  • Enterococcus (titer) – more than 50 ml.


The supervisory authority for enforcing the Ordinance is the Regional Health Inspectorate (RHI)/ Hygiene and Epidemiological Inspectorate (HEI). Each public pool is subject to inspection once a month. Supervisory bodies, upon discovering violations related to deviations from the standards, have the authority to suspend operation of the pool. Depending on the degree of deviation, recommendations may be issued for replacement and/or decontamination of the water.



What are the maintenance requirements for public swimming pools?


The established regulatory requirements for maintaining swimming pools and the areas around them include:


  • Daily cleaning and disinfection of sanitary facilities, changing rooms, and showers used by the pool visitors. In order to ensure greater hygiene, the Ordinance provides that showers shall be located so as to ensure that users pass through the shower area before entering the area of the swimming pool;
  • Replacement of the water of public swimming pools – if the water is purified using specialized equipment and is regularly disinfected, it can be used for up to 45 days. However, if there are no purification facilities and/or they are not operational due to any reason, the water should be replaced weekly while undergoing regular disinfection as well.
  • Each time the water is replaced, mechanical cleaning of the bottom and walls of the pool should be performed;
  • For indoor swimming pools, there is also a requirement for the air temperature within the premises. According to the Ordinance it should not be more than 1-2 degrees above the water temperature (between 24-27 degrees Celsius).


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