The Electricity Supply Industry has prepared guidelines for the management of electricity easements. Ausgrid can assist you with any additional questions you may have.
Particular care must be taken in the case of swimming pools, as the voltage required to cause electrocution is very much reduced when a person has been immersed in water. The construction of swimming pools within electricity easements is only permitted in very limited circumstances.
NOTE: Swimming pools within Ausgrid electricity easements require written approval from Ausgrid. A local council building permit is not sufficient approval.
Electric shocks may occur when people are exposed to a voltage across any part of their body. A fault can occur on electricity lines when lightning strikes the line, if an insulator should break down, or in rare cases when a conductor drops to the ground. When a fault happens, part of the electric current flows through the ground along the easement, and this can, in certain situations, cause voltages to appear in the ground for a short period. A fault can occur at any time of the day or night, but is more likely during severe weather, such as during wind or electrical storms, or bushfires. The closer the pool is to a tower or pole, the greater the risk, since the electric current normally enters the ground at these points.
Ausgrid requires access to our lines to permit maintenance or construction work to be carried out. You must provide a continuous, unobstructed area of 4.5m wide along the full length of the easement to allow Ausgrid’s staff access to power lines and other equipment at all times. You must not place obstructions in the easement within 5 metres of a power line, equipment or support wire, or within 10 metres of a steel power line structure.
Sources of danger
There are a number of things that can contribute to the creation of dangerous voltages around a pool. Water taps can be a source of danger, since they come from outside the easement, and can create a difference in voltage from the area around the pool. Metallic fences can cause similar problems. The power supply to your pool pump or lighting is also a possible source of danger, especially if these devices have not been installed in accordance with the Wiring Rules, or have since been altered. All these things should be checked. Above ground pools have been shown to be a source of danger when installed close to towers.
Minimising risk of electric shock
In order to minimise the risk of electric shock in these circumstances, owners should ensure that Ausgrid staff assess any plans to install a pool or have inspected an existing installation, and they should avoid the actions which contribute to hazardous situations. The following is a short list of measures you should adopt to ensure you remain as safe as possible.
- Avoid using metallic objects around the pool as much as possible - for example portable pool ladders, removable slippery dips.Where possible, use fibreglass or plastic items.
- Have the wiring to your pool pump checked for correct installation.
- Keep any electrical installations well clear of the pool and out of the easement, including yard lighting (an isolating transformer may be used if supply is required).
- Underwater lighting should only be of the extra low voltage type.
- Where a boundary fence makes up part of the pool enclosure, an isolation section (e.g. timber fence) may be required to be installed - refer to Ausgrid for details.
- Use plastic piping to connect any water taps within the pool area to the water supply.
- Have the pool surrounded by timber decking or pavers – these can help to reduce the risk from currents passing through the ground near pools.
- Avoid swimming when storms or bushfires are occurring, since faults arising from lightning strikes, dropped conductors and fire (fire conducts electricity) are more likely to happen than during normal conditions.
- Do not use pool cleaners with long handles where there is a risk of contact with overhead conductors. If you would like to determine the height of conductors, please contact Ausgrid. Do not attempt to measure the height of conductors yourself.
- If your pool is directly below the conductors or within 40m of a transmission tower, please contact Ausgrid so that the situation can be assessed. In some cases the pool may need to be relocated clear of the conductors or tower.
If you have any questions regarding this fact sheet, please contact Ausgrid on 13 15 25 and ask for 'Easement Enquiries.'