Getting the Stains Out

Getting the Stains Out of a pools surface sure makes things look at lot better.  All pool water contains metals. Some sources of dissolved metals are familiar: fill water, pool chemicals, deteriorating pool equipment, lawn fertilizers and other chemicals in rain runoff. More recently, the increased use of stone, brick and marble in and around pools has added to the levels of dissolved metals in pool water. This is because of the acidic nature of rainwater, which typically has a pH of 5.0 to 5.6, but sometimes as low as 1.8 in highly populated areas. Acidic rainwater releases the metals found in these materials. Marble, flagstone and granite, for example, naturally contain iron which can leach into a pool.

Balanced pool water is essential. Poor chemistry in any pool, regardless of the water source, can eventually destroy pool equipment and surfaces. By its chemical nature, pure water is very corrosive. This point is especially important for owners of plaster pools to understand because if the water does not contain enough carbonate (alkalinity) or calcium (hardness), it can impact the plaster.

Nor are vinyl pools immune: Severely unbalanced pool water can leach the plasticizer (the chemical added to vinyl to give it flexibility and elasticity) out of vinyl liners.

pH is the most significant factor in preventing and removing stains, and is often overlooked because pool water can look clear even at very high or very low pH levels. Pool water with a low pH can dissolve the metals found in pool equipment and heat exchangers. And just as the stone and brick used around the pool can dissolve in acidic water, so too will the pool’s plaster surface, resulting in more surface pitting and etching and the release of embedded metals into the water. At the other end of the pH spectrum, high levels cause metals to “plate out” of the water, or form stains at the molecular level that discolor pool surfaces.

Pools with high total dissolved solids are especially problematic for controlling stains because the salt content of the water is naturally high. Salt water is corrosive. Additionally, chemical compounds frequently behave differently in high salt solutions. To add to the problem, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that plaster surfaces may be more soluble in salt water than in fresh water. Salt water pool owners, and those who service them, need to be especially diligent in monitoring water chemistry.

Unbalanced water can facilitate the release of metals and surface staining, but what’s also true is that even pools with balanced water will eventually stain. Since metal levels in pool water are constantly rising, the water eventually becomes saturated. Dissolved metals are then released onto pool surfaces, resulting in stains. In order to minimize metal staining, it is important to determine the concentrations of various metals in the water (or “metal load”), protect the metals from oxidizing on the surface of the pool, and reduce the concentration of the metals in the water.

Metal tests properly conducted with precisely calibrated scientific instruments are very accurate. But common liquid dropper and strip format tests, while convenient and affordable, have limitations. Sequestering agents and other chemicals interfere with these tests, frequently showing metal levels that have tested significantly lower than they actually are. When testing for metals, make certain the kits contain a releasing agent, and are measuring total and not just “free” metal concentrations. In general, two-step metal testing procedures measure total metal concentrations, while one-step procedures measure only free metal concentrations.

Once you know the metal load of the pool water, you need to take action to minimize staining. One effective temporary measure is to add a sequestering agent. These chemical compounds tie up the dissolved metals and prevent them from oxidizing on the pool surface. Unfortunately, sequestering agents do not effectively remove metals from pool water, and they break down over time, losing their ability to bind metals.

Unfortunately, the molecular size of sequestered metals is too small to be effectively filtered under most conditions. Efficient removal of sequestered metals requires highly sophisticated filtration systems. The typical pool filtration system is able to remove only relatively large particles, which means that most, if not all, of the time, sequestered metals pass through the filter and return to the pool.

In studies performed in our chemistry laboratory using filters equivalent to or better than those found in the best pool filtration systems, sequestering agents removed less than 5 percent of dissolved copper from properly balanced water. While somewhat better results were obtained with dissolved iron (ranging from 50 percent to less than 1 percent removal), significant amounts of iron remained in the water. One notable exception was with liquid sequestering agents and plaster dust. These materials tend to stick together to form larger particles. Depending on the size of these particles, they can be removed by many filtration systems. Even under these circumstances, some metals will remain in thewater, often in significant amounts.

Ultimately, to prevent metal staining, the concentration of metal in the pool water must be reduced. This can be accomplished in one of three ways. One option is to dilute the metals by removing some of the existing pool water and replacing with fresh metal-free water. This is often not possible due to either the lack of metal-free water or the cost associated with water replacement. A second option is to use an ion exchange resin system to remove the metals from the water. This process, while relatively straightforward, tends to reduce the calcium concentration of the water, thereby requiring the addition of calcium compounds to restore the proper hardness to the water. A third choice is to use a newly developed insoluble chelating polymer to remove the metals from the water. This material is easy to use, does not impact the hardness of the water, and does not interact with other pool chemicals.

The best way to keep pools free from metal stains is to take a proactive approach rather than waiting for problems to occur. Use fill water relatively free of metals, keep pool water properly balanced, and regularly use effective metal control and eliminating agents.

Are you thinking HALLELUJAH the pool season is over?

Are you thinking HALLELUJAH the pool season is over?  The winter months are very active months for water in pools. The pH and chlorine levels fluctuate and more importantly the alkalinity and calcium levels must stay up. The only way to protect the most expensive area of your pool (THE PLASTER) is to continue to chemically treat your pool water. A new plaster job typically will cost over $20,000 depending on pool size.

SO………DON’T LET YOUR POOL WATER GET GREEN AND UNBALANCED!!!! So many times people think “We’ll just throw a cover over it and see it in the spring” or even worse… “We will just drain our pool and fill it in the spring”.

Draining your pool causes a variety of problems and down falls that will cost you tens of thousands of $$$.  Additionally, facilities that keep water in their pools with or without a Pool Cover need to chemically balanced and treat their water during the winter months so that the water will not feed on your pool plaster all winter long causing premature plaster problems such as SCALING, ETCHING, PITTING, and STAINING!!! If you do not care for your pool in the winter months you will have to drain, acid wash, rebalance, and refill the pool, which typically costs $3000 and up. The safest way to protect your pool is to have USA Management manage your winter program.

Call us today to take advantage of special winter service rate plans prior to September 30

We hope you enjoy the savings and let us take the FREEZE out of your winter months by taking care of your pool. Just contact us today by call us toll free at 877.248.1USA or email us at winterprogram@usamanagement.com and ask for further information.

Maximizing swimming pool revenue and efficiency

Are you maximizing swimming pool revenue and efficiency?  Keeping your pool covered when it’s not in use is not only important for safety, but covers can reduce evaporation and water waste by as much as 95 percent. If the cover is solar, it will help to heat the pool.

A study by the Center for Energy Conservation in Florida found that pool operators can save energy and maintain a comfortably heated pool by using smaller and higher-efficiency pumps, and operating pumps less each day. Some pool operators saved as much as 75 percent of their original pumping bill when they used both conservation measures.

Another way to maximize pool revenue is to increase attendance. Adding features to your pool, such as tanning ledges, custom decking or waterfalls, could make it more attractive to your users. Another possibility is enhancing the landscaping in the pool area with shrubbery and flowerbeds, but keep in mind that some plants attract unwanted insects.

Encouraging organized swimming events is another possible way to increase attendance.
Founded in 1970, U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) is a non-profit national organization that promotes health, wellness, fitness, and competition for adults through swimming. It does so by partnering with more than 1,500 adult swim programs across the country, promoting information via the bi-monthly member magazine, SWIMMER, monthly e-newsletters, its website, usms.org, and by sanctioning and promoting pool, open water, and virtual events and competitions.

“More than 55,000 adults are registered members of U.S. Masters Swimming,” said Bill Brenner, USMS club and coach services director. “Socialization is the number one reason our members choose to be a part of this established program. Swimmers are more likely to maintain a steady fitness routine if they are participating in a team environment complete with a coach. Adult athletes tend to stick with the program longer and with more success when surrounded with like-minded adults.”
Parks and recreation departments can maximize revenue and increase pool participation with proper programming. Revenue can be generated from program fees, hosting clinics, meets, and providing swimming lessons for adults, as well as sponsorships from local merchants.

“We are an adult aquatic fitness program that provides diversity for all adults, ages18-100-plus, who want to swim as their chosen method of exercise. Any park and recreation department can register a USMS program. The national office of USMS provides numerous resources for new and established programs to grow and maintain membership,” Bill explained.
Coached workouts provide increased incentives and value for members in a USMS program. They administer a Masters Coach Certification program available to all USMS members. This education is geared toward understanding the adult athlete, establishing a coaching philosophy and teaching proper stroke technique and correction.  Bill told us that everyone has his or her own reason for belonging: health, fitness, camaraderie, fun, the thrill of competition, travel and coaching are a few.

“About 30 percent of members compete in swimming meets on a regular basis. For those who are serious competitors, there are an incredible number of opportunities to test your skill and conditioning. Short course (25 yard and 25 meter) and long course (50 meter) pool meets, lake and ocean open-water swims, postal meets, special events and international championships are all part of an ambitious program of Masters Swimming.”

A recent U.S. Masters Swimming World Championship meet at Stanford drew over 7,000 participants, and Bill said it was the largest swimming meet ever held in North America.
“But if competing isn’t your style, there’s no need to feel pressured. Many Masters Swimmers are simply interested in the regular routine of working out with friends. Our program’s mission is to promote health, wellness, fitness and competition through swimming for adults. Our vision is to be the premier resource of adult aquatic fitness in America. We value excellence, health, fitness, learning, respect and fun.”

Make your aquatic facility into a profit center!

Let’s face it, swimming pools DO NOT generate enough revenue to sustain operations and offset the cost of your facility. That is why hundreds of aquatic facilities across the nation are closing their doors and/or desperately looking for private firms to step in and “lease” their aquatic facility to keep their facilities open for their community. Make your aquatic facility into a profit center. It is NOT a difficult equation for private firms to figure how much revenue must be generated to keep a facility open and turn a profit. Most of these private firms are heavily backed by large swim team organizations.  But these firms are quickly learning that even with a backing of an established swimming organization it is not an easy task to generate revenue to turn a profit.

USA Management, which is the largest and oldest aquatic management firm in the US, has an answer to this perplexing problem.  We have a 3 to 5 year plan that will lift your aquatic operations from the red to the black.  In 4 easy steps and under 3 years, USA Management will transform your swimming pool into an Aquatic Family profit Center.  Through a combination of fundamental management guidelines we will implement our services, stabilize the operation, grow revenue, and streamline expenditures.  Your physical facility will experience an EXTREME AQUATIC MAKEOVER and through best management practices, USA Management will transform the facility, your budget and most importantly…your bottom line into a profit center.  All it requires is your time to start the ball rolling on this no nonsense, fundamental implementation.  You can contact our corporate offices for additional information to learn how we can help you be an aquatic HERO!  Ask for the program “Aquatic Family Center profit center”.

Toll Free 877-248-1USA

UV Systems help reduce Recreational Water Illness

UV systems help reduce the risk of swimmers getting sick in swimming pools.  The most common symptom of parasites in recreational water illness is diarrhea. Children and pregnant women can become violently ill from an infestation of Cryptosporidium or Giardia. People with compromised immune systems, such as people with AIDS and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, are at risk of dying if infested with Cryptosporidium, according to the CDC.

“Baby pools” and smaller, less- frequently attended pools were found to contain the highest presence of these microbial parasites.

Practice safe swimming when visiting public water facilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following tips to reduce the risk of becoming ill from swimming in a public swimming pool:

– Do not go swimming if you have diarrhea

– Do not allow your children to go swimming if they have diarrhea

– Make sure your children make a trip to the bathroom before swimming in a public pool

– Do not swallow or drink swimming pool water

– Teach children not to swallow or drink swimming pool water

– Change baby diapers in designated changing areas in restrooms, not at poolside

– Insist on public recreational water facilities that are properly maintained

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a fact sheet on operating public swimming pools safely. The May 2012 document, titled “Operating Public Swimming Pools,” states that poorly maintained public, recreational water facilities can spread germs that cause diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and skin diseases.

Public swimming pool and water park patrons should look for facilities that do the following:

– Operate under a state or local authority

– Keep trained pool operators on staff during peak visitor hours

– Test the water for impurities at least twice a day

– Keep showers, changing areas, and bathrooms clean

– Enforce load limits- no overcrowded pools

– Close the pool for maintenance weekly

– Educate swimmers about recreational water illnesses (RWIs)

Safety pool covers

Safety
Swimming pool covers come in several different forms, but all of them have one mission in mind: seal your water from outside intruders. Whether it is leaves, debris, dirt, or pesky truders and vandals, your investment will be protected.  Plus, if there are small children or animals there will no longer be any dangers of these helpless victims falling in. What’s more, most security covers are able to hold several adults at a time without any strain or ripping.  Safety pool covers can be a big asset to your commercial swimming pool needs.

Safety pool covers can also save you money.  With less debris getting in your pool, there will be less need to clean, fewer chemicals will have to be used, and your filter won’t have to work as often, therefore saving you the cost of unneeded maintenance.

Swimming Pools Draining City Budgets

Swimming pools draining City budgets and hard times haven’t always meant cutbacks. An author who studied the role swimming pools played in 20th century America found more than 1,000 municipal pools were built as public works projects during the Great Depression. But this time, most governments only see decades-old pools burning holes in already tight budgets.

In the past two years, Anderson has closed two pools to the public, one shuttered for good and one hanging on by a thread, run by a swim club only for swim team practices and lessons. In all, four public pools within 20 miles of the city have closed since the economy went sour.

“You think about American culture — swimming and summer just go together. A lot of these kids not having the opportunity to swim — it’s just hard to swallow. Not only is it important for safety, but what you should do as a kid is swim and have fun and be active,” said Tommy Starkweather, the swim team coach at the Sheppard Swim Center, which was closed to the public in January.

But running a pool is an expensive proposition. The Anderson Swim Club spends $10,000 a month on insurance, operations and maintenance even for the pool’s current limited use. In Grand Traverse County, Mich., the only public pool for the county’s 87,000 residents lost $244,000 last year.

“That’s three sheriff’s deputies on the road,” County Commissioner Christine Maxbauer said.

Grand Traverse County is also facing a looming deficit of more than $1 million, and commissioners are debating whether it is fair to keep to pool open when other services get cut.

“We have to focus on vital services … . Clearly a swimming pool is not a vital service,” said Maxbauer, whose husband is a competitive swimmer.

In Sacramento, Calif., the city’s more than 465,000 residents had 13 pools to choose from a decade ago. By the start of the summer of 2012, only three public pools will be open.

The city has tried for years to keep from closing any pools completely by shortening hours and closing them only on certain days. But the lingering economic downturn has cut $1 million from Sacramento’s aquatics budget, leaving officials with just $700,000 for pools, said Dave Mitchell, operations manager for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

The pool closings and shuttering of other recreation opportunities leaves children with far fewer good choices to occupy their free time during the long summer months, Mitchell said.

Pools “are just a safe place to be and be kids, to enjoy summer, to enjoy some times. These opportunities just aren’t going to be there for the youth and it is crushing,” Mitchell said.

In Oak Park, one of Sacramento’s poorest neighborhoods, the local pool is scheduled to close next year along with a neighborhood community center. The Rev. Tony Sadler of the neighborhood’s Shiloh Baptist Church said both facilities are a resource for families “just to survive in these economic times.”

“In an area such as Oak Park, closing these places would be the equivalent of putting them back in a drug-infested war zone that has trapped our children generation after generation,” Sadler recently told the city council.

In an odd twist, the Great Recession may be killing off a city amenity born during the Great Depression, when more than a thousand municipal pools were built across the country as public works projects, said Jeff Wiltse, author of a book called “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.”

“It democratized pleasurable recreation and leisure. A municipal swimming pool offered to poor and working-class and middle-class American, sort of the trappings of the good life — cooling off in a pool on a hot day. Laying out in the sun,” Wiltse said.

The first hiccup for municipal swimming pools came during the civil rights era, when they had to integrate.

Pools were an especially sensitive place, considering how little most swimmers wore in the water. Many whites, particularly in the South, refused to share public pools, contributing to a sharp rise in private swim clubs and home pools, Wiltse said.

In 1950, there were 2,500 private in-ground pools in the U.S. In 2009, there were 5.2 million backyard pools, according to the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

The first major round of pool closings happened during the bad economic times in the 1970s and 1980s. Those that survived now face an uncertain future brought on by the latest economic upheaval, which could end up shuttering one of the few places outside public schools where people from a wide range of economic classes meet, Wiltse said.

“We’re a much wealthier country than we were back during the 1930s, yet our reaction now to economic downturns is we need to cut public recreation,” Wiltse said. “I think we in contemporary times we don’t value public recreation as past generations of Americans have.”

In South Carolina, an informal poll of swimming pools inspectors found 17 municipal pools have closed in the past five years, said Jim Ridge, recreational water compliance coordinator for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“The traditional municipal pool … those are in decline,” Ridge said. “I think the primary reason is economics. They don’t age well.”

In their place, more affluent communities are building water parks, where splash pads, water slides and other attractions can bring in entire families and allow parks and recreation departments to charge $7 or $8 a person instead of the $2 or $3 admission more common to a regular pool.

And the splash pads are often built in suburbs that boomed over the past decade instead of the city centers where decades-old municipal pools are found, Ridge said.

In Anderson, Sheppard Swim Center and another pool, Hudgens Swim Center, opened in the mid-1970s, replacing a series of smaller pools, some carved out of ponds, dotted around the county. The school district owned the pools and split costs with the city, and it sent thousands of fourth-graders to the centers for swimming lessons.

But the school system withdrew its money several years ago, leaving the city to pay all the bills. Hudgens Swim Center closed before summer 2009, when city council members decided it would be too costly to fix holes in the roof and clean up a mold problem.

Sheppard Swim Center, named for a city police officer who died on duty as the pool was being built, managed to stay open to the public for two more years. But at the end of last year, the city decided it didn’t have the money to keep a 35-year-old pool open. The Anderson Swim Club rallied, persuading the school district to let them keep the pool open for practice and meets as well as swim lessons, holding yard sales and pancake breakfasts to raise the $10,000 a month needed to keep a lease on the center.

But the bare-bones insurance policy won’t allow the pool to open to the public. Stagnant water fills a splash zone for kids just outside the indoor pool’s doors. And the school district could take its land back anytime to expand the neighboring middle school.

During the public outcry after the closing, the city considered building a new pool, but couldn’t get the county or a private company to help with the costs.

“It was a very hard decision. Our community needs public pools. But we just can’t afford them right now. I’m not sure who can,” said Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts, who learned to swim at the Sheppard Swim Center in eighth grade.

Kerstin Mensch brings her 7-year-old son to the pool for swimming lessons. As he held on to a boogie board and glided in one lane of the 25-meter pool, she recalled how just about every hot day growing up would be spent at the pool with her friends.

“My son really loves to swim and this is the only place to go,” she said.

As one of Anderson County’s 187,000 residents, she can’t believe the only public pool in the whole county is a small one in Honea Path, a rural town of 3,700 at least 15 miles away. She would be willing to shift priorities or even pay just a little extra in taxes to have a pool she could take her son to so he could spend a carefree summer day in the water, just like she did growing up.

“What are kids going to do over the summer?” Mensch said. “Play video games or just get in trouble, I guess.”

Programs for swimming pools

TIME MANAGEMENT
Working 9 to 5 doesn’t apply to aquatics facilities — at least not to aquatics facilities that want to remain open. Approximately 41 percent of respondents stated that their pool stays open between 9 and 12 hours, while 59 percent responded that their pool is open for 13 hours or longer. For many, being handcuffed by swim lessons, swim teams and/or open swim forces them to use pool space at odd hours to accommodate other activities, such as adult water aerobics and programs for swimming pools.

Todd Roth, aquatics supervisor for both the Welch Swimming Pool and Park Forest Pool in State College, Penn., shared what a typical day at his pools looks like:
• Two hours per day for swim lessons
• Three and a half hours for swim teams
• Seven hours for open swim

This schedule essentially monopolizes Roth’s pool programming from sunrise to sundown, forcing him to schedule his masters swim program — known as “AM Aquafit” — at 6 a.m. The AM Aquafit program offers a variety of water workouts, including adult swim team workouts, self-guided lap swimming and water walking against the channel. Despite being a strong program with solid interest from the community, Roth admits to struggling to get a large turnout because the class is so early in the morning — a dilemma that Jenni Phillips, aquatics supervisor for the City of Cody, Wyo., knows all too well.

“Finding the right time is a challenge,” she says. “We have people who say our water aerobics classes are either too early or too late or not on the right day. We modify the class every couple of years to see if we can reach anybody else.” Another obstacle for Phillips is the costs involved with participating in programs. “Most of the people for our water aerobics classes are on a fixed budget and cannot afford to pay the cost that we need to charge for our programs.”

SPECIAL EVENTS
Rather than focus on building up specific programs, aquatics directors are investing in one-time activities that will cost less for the user but generate stronger participation for the aquatics facility. “People have so many choices now,” says Roth, who has to compete with Penn State University,  and other local pools. All of these offer swim lesson options, making the market extremely competitive. And Roth acknowledges that he can’t compete against the YMCAs for the adult fitness business, because their programs are year-round. “The market is getting diluted now with so many choices that you need to find a niche or focus on single events rather than programs,” he says.

Roth has made such events a priority, implementing dive-in movies and themed family fun nights with games and prizes. The season concludes with doggie swim, the one day Roth opens the pool to owners and their pooches.

“Across our industry, not just in aquatics, the additional programming for us has not been as successful as one-time events,” he says. “People aren’t throwing out $500 to $800 for registration, but they will spend $30 to go to the pool some night.”

Jim Lemke, aquatics director for Columbus (Ind.) Parks and Recreation, has been hosting a dog swim for the past nine years. On the last day of summer, he charges $5 per dog, opening up the diving and lap pools, which attracted 144 dogs during this year’s event. But his programming emphasis isn’t on four-legged creatures; it’s on the two-legged kind that can swim, pedal and run.

NEW PROGRAMMING
Lemke acknowledges that one of the fastest growing programs at his facility is youth triathlons. The nine-and-under kids swim 100 meters, participate in a three-mile bike ride and run half a mile. The 10-and-up kids do a 200-meter swim, six-mile bike ride and one-mile run. Kids as old as 14 can participate, while his youngest participant this year was a 5-year-old girl. His facility hosts two triathlons in June and August, with this year’s June event drawing 75 kids. Between the 2013 events, Lemke introduced special 45-minute training sessions, with the bulk of that time spent in the pool. “There is definitely a growing interest in this, and not just in Columbus,” Lemke says.

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., youth triathlons have been a big part of aquatics supervisor Kathy Anderson’s programming for five years running, with participation increasing from 80 to 140 kids over that span. Anderson would like to see similar growth with Aqua Zumba® (she’s currently searching for a certified instructor), with past success often contingent on whether the class is offered as part of a package or sold separately. “People like it when it’s included in Choose to Lose and included in their membership,” Anderson says. “We can get up to 30 people for Aqua Zumba, but once the Choose to Lose program ends, classes can go down to seven or eight people.”

Aqua Zumba is so new, Anderson contends, that it hasn’t had a chance to build up the loyal fan base that many other popular programs have year after year. “It’ll take awhile for it to grow, and I’m not sure if it’s a fad or if it’s going to stay around,” she says. “A lot of the movements aren’t honestly geared toward the water and some of the instructors that I’ve seen are not as comfortable teaching in the water.”

IDEA EXPANSION
Boyle is enthusiastic for the future of his aquatics facility, which is scheduled for an expansion in the next five years. “Our park district recognizes that we need more space and understands that we are locked to some of the programming that we offer, but we do have goals in the near future, and that’s increasing programming once that facility space becomes available,” he says. Based on budget, this could include another lap pool, dive well and a river that would be used as an aquatic walking track in the mornings. Amenities such as aquatic climbing walls could also be in the plans.

But these options don’t apply for most aquatic directors. Instead, they must look for new programming to maximize existing pool space and increase revenue as budgets get tighter and tighter. “As aquatic directors,” Lemke says, “we have to be creative.”

Enzyme myths

Role Players: Phosphate reducers and enzymes can be an important part of pool maintenance

Enzymes and phosphate-reducing products have been used in the aquatics industry a number of years. Claims on how effective these are have taken on a life of their own. While the products can be tremendously helpful to pool operators, they do have limits. This article will discuss what these products are, what they are capable of and what they cannot do. Information on how they can best be used to help pool operators also will be covered.

Phosphate reducers are specialty chemicals that remove phosphates from pool water. Typically, they’re salts of aluminum or lanthanum which, when added to water, produce insoluble phosphate compounds that are removed through filtration, vacuuming or both.

It should be noted that not all phosphates found in pools are bad. Some phosphates (polyphosphates) and other phosphorus-containing compounds are excellent sequestering agents, protecting the pool from metal staining and scale. Some phosphates (namely orthophosphates) are known to be a source of food for algae. Phosphate reducers were introduced as a means of limiting this food source, thus curtailing algae’s ability to grow in the pool. But because these products are not EPA-registered as algaecides, their labels cannot claim algae control. Nevertheless, many believe that these products will kill algae.

Phosphate myths

Removing phosphates reduces or eliminates the need to maintain proper sanitizer residual. This is simply not true. A proper sanitizer residual must be maintained at all times and in all areas of the pool to ensure proper disinfection. As an added benefit, maintaining this residual and shock treating regularly also will prevent algae from becoming a problem, regardless of the existing phosphate level.

Removing phosphates eliminates the need for an algaecide. Because removing phosphates from pool water does not kill algae, an algaecide is still recommended. Maintaining your sanitizer residual and using an algaecide regularly will prevent any unexpected algal blooms from occurring.

Removing phosphates kills algae. If this were true, then product makers could make algaecidal claims on their labels. Algae can store phosphates in their cells, enabling them to survive periods of time in the absence of phosphates. As some of these cells die, their phosphates can be used by the surviving algae as a nutrient source.

Phosphates create a chlorine demand on pool water. This is false. Phosphates are already at their ideal oxidation level, so chlorine does not react with them. For this reason, phosphates do not create a chlorine demand. The two are simply unrelated.

Once phosphates are removed, they won’t return. Phosphates are common in the environment and are constantly being introduced into the pool from a variety of sources, including swimmers, leaves, bugs and other water treatment products. As a matter of fact, phosphonate-based sequestering agents are some of the best products available for providing protection against metal stains and scale. These phosphates are not orthophosphates and are not useful to algae as a food source. It should be noted that orthophosphates themselves are not useful as sequestrants.

Despite the limitations, phosphate reducers still can be an effective tool for managing pools if used as part of a routine maintenance program. Because phosphates are so commonplace in the pool, phosphate levels must be monitored diligently to keep them low. This will ensure any problems that do arise may be minimized. Also, when choosing a sequestering agent, the pool operator will have to decide whether the benefits of using a phosphate reducer outweigh the benefits of using a phosphorus-based sequestering agent to prevent metal staining and scale. (Typically, polyphosphates are used, not the orthophosphates that feed algae.)

Enzymes are specialty chemicals that help eliminate or reduce the severity of waterline scum lines, improve sanitizer efficiency by reducing organic loading, and decrease filter cleanings. Enzymes are proteins produced by biological processes that act as catalysts to speed up reactions by lowering the energy level required for that reaction to occur. Enzymes are selective in nature, with specific enzymes acting with different types of products. For example, an enzyme that will catalyze the breakdown of an oil molecule likely will have little effect on a protein or starch.

The use of enzymes has several effects. For starters, by breaking down oils and other complex molecules found in pools, the amount of material available to form scum lines at the water’s edge can be greatly reduced. Additionally, because enzymes help break down some very complex molecules in the water, oxidizing sanitizers such as chlorine and bromine are more effective at breaking down those contaminants, and then become more available for their intended use of killing bacteria. Another benefit is that by breaking down these large complex products, filters will be less likely to get fouled, resulting in longer runs between cleanings. Because chlorine will destroy enzyme activity over time, their activity time in the pool is limited. For this reason, they do need to be used as part of a regular maintenance program to maintain the benefit.

Enzyme myths

Enzymes are living organisms. Not true. Enzymes are produced by living things, but are not themselves alive. This means they can’t be killed. Instead, their ability to help catalyze reactions can be destroyed (through high heat, chemical incompatibilities, etc.).

All enzymes are alike. Broad spectrum enzymes are products that contain a wide range of enzymes and enzyme activities. Other products contain selected or targeted enzymes, which means proteins are selected to target particular types of contaminants that need to be broken down. Products containing selected enzymes also can be broad spectrum in that they are blends of selected enzymes, and broad-spectrum enzyme products may not necessarily target the desired contaminants. For this reason, it’s important to know which type of enzyme product you are using to achieve the desired result.

Enzymes will break down all contaminants. No. Enzymes only act upon substances to which they can bind. Because of this, only certain contaminants will be acted upon, depending on the types of enzymes present. Enzymes and phosphate reducers can be used to help maintain pool clarity and aesthetics. While each has benefits and limitations, if the proper products are used as part of a regular maintenance program, they can be effective tools for managing a pool or spa.

Splashpads are a central point for families and kids

Splashpads are a central point for families and kids.  Splashpads have been at the top of the most requested additions for parks for the last few years and this trend is only increasing. Splashpads are a zero-depth aquatic solution suitable for a variety of age groups that combines the sensations of different water effects such as flowing, misting and jetting. With no standing water, Splashpads are a safe aquatic play activity. There  is virtually no risk of drowning.

The City of West Bend Wisconsin constructed a Splashpad next to their wading pool and saw attendance increase by 111% over the year preceding the installation of the Splashpad. The low maintenance and installation costs when compared to a pool were important factors in the decision to put in a Splashpad.

Another example of the increased attendance and usage was seen by the Town of Cottage Grove Minnesota. Having opened just this summer, the staff had been monitored usage regularly and found that in the first 2 months alone, over 9,100 users used the Splashpad. As a comparison, last year  5,700 people used the outdoor municipal swimming pool over the course of the entire summer.

Without admission costs to residents, being able to come and go as they pleased was seen as a great advantage to the Splashpad®. Located near other playground  amenities such as courts, trails and fields increased usage of all park facilities as a whole. Installing the Splashpad resulted in creating a central gathering point for the community, encouraging social interaction. Since the Splashpads are inherently safe without any standing water, adults are free to enjoy the outdoors without the need to constantly supervise their little ones.