Public Pools & Water Attractions

Swimming pools are something that immediately comes to mind when picturing a typical American summer. They are wildly popular nationwide, particularly among the younger population, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon. However, like most other forms of recreation, swimming pools come with their own risks and public pools must therefore be licensed in order to operate. Due to the wide variation in activities that can be offered at pools and water attractions licensing can vary depending on the attractions that are available. 

  • In Wisconsin, every public swimming pool and water attraction is required to have a license. 
  • Swimming pools/water attractions are considered public when they serve more than 2 residences, or when they are used on a regular basis by persons other than the residents.
  • The licensing process cannot begin if the pool has not been constructed yet. 

    • Before seeking licensure, the operator must contact a Wisconsin registered engineer to design and submit plans to the Department of Safety and Professional Services for review.
      • Once plans are approved, construction may begin. 
    • With construction completed, an inspection by a member of the Department of Safety and Professional Services may begin and he or she may approve the installation. 

    • Once the completed facility is inspected and approved, the licensing process with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection may begin.

  • The type of pool license required depends on its complexity. A pool that has a special purpose, such as a whirlpool or therapy pool, is excessively large or deep, can be classified as a water attraction, or has additional features can increase the complexity of the pool license.


Obtaining Licenses

Follow these steps to work towards obtaining a recreation license:

  • Review the Recreational and Educational Camps licensing packet links, to the left.
  • Contact the following:
    1. TOWN: Contact the Township, Village, or City for any local requirements regarding conditional use or zoning permits that may be required.
    2. COUNTY ZONING: Contact Rusk County Land Conservation & Development at 715-532-2156 to determine if a land use permit must be submitted.
    3. WELL/WATER TESTING: If a private well is present, the well must be constructed, maintained and operated according to NR812. The water must also be tested annually for coliform and nitrates. (This will be evaluated during your annual health inspection.)
  • Complete the Lodging Application, including Public Pools & Water Attractions, which can be found on our Lodging and Recreation page.
  • Submit your completed application with the required license fee(s) to our office.
  • Contact our Environmental Health Specialist, at (715) 532-2299 to schedule an onsite inspection based on the scope of rules in DATCP 76. Provide a copy of your water sample results, the completed lodging license application and pay the required license fees, if not done previously.


License Duration

  • Licenses are valid from July 1st of one year to June 30th the following year. 
  • Licenses granted on or after April 1st will extend to June 30th of the following year (rather than expiring on June 30th of the year the license was issued). 
  • Licenses expire June 30th of each year. 
  • Renewal fees for existing establishments shall be submitted to Public Health before June 30 each year. 
  • Licenses are non-transferrable. If ownership changes, a new license must be attained.