A LOOPHOLE in the state government's new pool safely laws means that people can register their pools online without getting them inspected.
The state government imposed additional responsibilities on local councils this year after the NSW State Coroner recommended a review and reform of pool laws because of the high number of infant deaths.
However, the new scheme punishes the pockets of those who are proactive about safety and rewards those who are not.
The state government wants home owners to register their backyard pools by October 29, threatening those who do not with a $220 fine.
However, the cost of an inspection will be more than a fine.
Councils will charge home owners an initial inspection fee of $150 and a second inspection fee of $100, a total of $250 for a certificate of safety compliance, which lasts three years.
Lake Macquarie and Newcastle councils have their swimming pool safety inspection programs on public exhibition this month.
While the actual number of pools in the two council areas is unknown, council staff estimate up to 30,000 exist across the two regions.
Lake Macquarie predicts it will break even with its inspection program, with existing staff assessing about 400 pools a year.
However, the council has questioned the time it will take to inspect pools across Lake Macquarie, estimating it will take eight years to inspect the "high risk" pools alone.
Newcastle council, which will also use existing staff, thinks the new inspections will leave it $55,000 a year out of pocket, and has therefore elected to inspect the minimum number of pools.
It only wants to inspect pools at the request of property owners, who need a certificate of safety compliance to sell or lease a property with a pool.
The Forum swimming teacher Beth Bird said she was in favour of the new pool laws, but was in favour of "multiple layers of protection" to stop child drownings.
"It's that split second when you are not watching that they can drown," she said.
"Young kids need to have lessons; there should be security fences; and there should not be hazards around the pool - all these things need to be combined, you can't just have one without the other."
Pools approved through DAs: more than 17,000
Estimated number of actual pools: about 20,000
Staff: One full-time inspector with building staff to assist
Estimated number of pool inspections per year: 400
Estimated time to complete: Eight years for stage one, which includes rentals homes with current certificates of compliance and pools that have not been inspected in more than 10 years
Estimated cost: $97,391
Estimated income: $100,000
Bottom line: Break even
Pools approved through DAs: at least 3200
Estimated number of actual pools: Between 5000 and 10,000
Staff: At least one full-time officer
Estimated number of pool inspections per year: 600
Estimated time to complete: No time frame, will only be assessed as houses are sold or put up for lease
Estimated cost: $170,000 per year
Estimated income: $85,000 per year
Bottom line: out of pocket $55,000 per year