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Swimming pool noise
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12/11/2017 - 12:08 pm
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We have a swimming pool that is directly is directly below an apartment block. When kids are using it they naturally become raucous, scream and have a good time, as all kids do. Some owners from the apartment block are extremely intolerant of this noise and believe that there should be no noise, something thatvirtually impossible when kids are playing. We have purchased a noise meter that shows a reading of 50 when everything is quiet, 63 when the frogs are out and about and 76 when 11 year old girls are sceaming in the pool. What is a reasonable solution?

Lady Penelope

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12/11/2017 - 12:57 pm
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Children make noise. As we age it appears that we become less tolerant to children’s noise.

If you are particularly concerned then check to see whether there is a By-law regarding the age of children that are allowed in the pool without supervision, or any rules that deal with the supervision of children on common property.

If the children are supposed to be supervised and they are still too noisy then perhaps you need to talk to the person supervising the children. They may not be aware that the noise level is disturbing to others. They may have their headphones on listening to music etc. Sometimes (but not always) better supervision = better noise control.

Below are some suggestions from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia regarding pools. It does not deal with noise – merely with supervision. 

Perhaps your scheme can adopt them into your By-laws.

  • Children (under 10 years) are not allowed entry unless under active supervision of a person 16 years or older.
  • Parents and guardians should actively supervise their children at all times and be dressed ready to enter a pool. For 0–5 year olds and non-swimmers, a parent or guardian needs to be in the water at all times and within arms’ reach of the child. It is best if you are engaging with your child i.e. playing with them, talking to them.
  • Supervision sign for children aged 6 - 10Constant active supervision is required for children aged 6–10 years old. Parents and carers must be prepared to enter the water with this age group.
  • For 11–14 year olds it is recommended that parents regularly check on their child by physically going to where they are in or around the water.

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12/11/2017 - 9:29 pm
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From my reading the pool isn’t in an apartment block, but next door?

There is nothing wrong with children enjoying themselves, but consistent screaming is very annoying.  Maybe tell the children not to scream?  Some noise is inevitable, you can’t expect total silence.

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16/11/2017 - 2:02 pm
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If the pool and the noise is coming from a next-door property then you’ll need to find out what your local Council’s laws are on noise levels, which usually vary with the time of day.

Individual residents (tenants or owners) can pursue this directly with Council on their own behalf.
Or if the OC considers it a problem for a sufficient number of residents the OC can add support to an existing Council noise enquiry/investigation, or commence one of their own on behalf of effected residents.

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27/11/2017 - 9:09 am
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In my experience very few people are so intolerant that they don’t think there should be any noise at all – in fact I have never met such a person. I also dont think its all about age – this is a common prejudice and it suggests that anyone who is not living with children is inherently intolerant or becomes so.

If the complaint is about loud shouting and screaming then, in my view, it is self evident that this type of behaviour will cause an interference with the rights of others. It is because is causing a repeated disturbance that it is being brought to your attention and admire your effort to find a way through.

Don’t forget that many people say nothing and suffer, are unhappy, will have failed to get any action, don’t want to be regarded as whingers or face the irrational responses. If it happens very occasionally it is just unfortunate ce la vie, but this sounds like a pattern and level of disturbance that will drive people indoors and impact on their ability to just live in their homes in the normal way.

Noise and disturbance that is repeated causes a great deal of stress and distress is harmful to peoples’ health,  it is not just a simple issue of someone being ‘intolerant’. This is why we have well established noise pollution laws, and Council’s have set standards that they apply to commercial facilities that impact on neighbourhood and residential living etc.

In the built in environment there are usually problems of amplification, and unless there are sound barriers this already loud noise will be travelling up and outward and being projected into peoples homes. It will be more than one or two homes affected. I lived next door to a regular family with a pool, that was used daily but at ground level this was not a problem – it was at sufficient distance and the fence created a sound barrier. This does not exist in strata environments and some are worse than others. In a recent beach house with little between us and the sea there was no sound of the ocean at all at the ground level and on the level one balcony it absolutely roared (wonderful).

Effective parental supervision includes ameliorating loud shouting and screaming because, to be frank, any child over six understands that there are some limits and it is self evident that this will interfere with other people. Excited play is great, but if it is unrestrained cacophony of noise repeated on frequent basis – well you get the picture.

It doesn’t really matter what the ‘number’ is on the sound meter – the Council standard is generally 5 bd above the baseline as the limit. But of course your sound meter cannot measure the complexity of repeated loud shouting and screaming, the nature of the sound, the pitch and penetration etc etc and as this is an area that will attract people it will not be a single instance of one 11 year old girl and the occasional scream. 

Like I said – it is self evident. You should not underestimate the impacts and residents and their committees on estate with pool should not be afraid to assert standards, and you cannot put a simple number on that.

It is unfortunate that many (not all) parents do seem to think an area like a common shared Pool is a place they can make as much rowdy noise as they please regardless. There is nothing unreasonable or oppressive about being required to moderate the behaviour of our children in public and it is vital to establish this a norm in high density residential communities – that is not anti-child it is pro community. 

Good luck.

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