A staggering amount of backyard pools in the Hunter are failing compliance inspections, forcing one council to issue a warning about the risk of drownings.
Lake Macquarie City Council data has revealed more than 70 per cent of pools across the local government area (LGA) failed safety inspections in 2018.
Of the 1840 inspections conducted by the council, 1319 did not comply with state legislation. Upon reinspection more than 40 per cent still did not comply.
Senior compliance officer Ndabezinhle Mothobi said the most common problems identified were gates that did not close properly, failure to have a current CPR chart on display in the pool area and the presence of objects along the pool fence that children could to use gain access.
“A lot of gates will close automatically if you pull them wide open, but they also need to latch shut even if only slightly resting on the latch,” he said.
“It is frightening, but time and time again across Australia, backyard drownings have occurred because a pool gate has been left just slightly ajar.”
Royal Life Saving Australia data shows 92 people have drowned in Australia this summer - a 36 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Mr Mothobi said pool compliance officers could issue $550 on-the-spot fines to home owners whose pools did not comply.
“Most of the time, we will issue a warning first and give them a chance to fix the problem before we come back and reinspect,” he said.
“Even objects inside a traditional pool fence can be a problem because a small child can get their foot between the bars and use those objects to step up and over."
Lake Macquarie is home to an estimated 20,000 backyard pools, of which about 14,000 are registered.
Council inspections take place throughout the year and officers use aerial mapping to identify and target unregistered pools.
Port Stephens council said 219 inspections were carried out in 2018 and 103 did not comply. Upon reinspection, 37 failed. There is 4854 registrered pools in the LGA.
Maitland council said 218 applications were made to register pools in 2017/18, but only 42 certificates of compliance were issued following the first inspection.
On a second inspection, 120 certicicates were issued and 19 on a third.
The council estimated there was more than 6,500 backyard pools in the LGA and said the most common reason for non-compliance was pool gates not latching.
A Newcastle council spokesperson said pools in its LGA could be inspected by council staff or privately accredited certifiers, but "the total number of inspections for our LGA is not known as this data is managed by the NSW government's Swimming Pool Register".