Bringing in the Big Guns to Beat the Heat
Fort Polk MWRUSA swimming pools
Fort Polk, La.
By Jenny E. Beeh
Sometimes the summer weather can be so sweltering, even a dip in the pool doesn't help. It's like swimming in soup. Hardly refreshing when the mercury tops out. And not only is the tepid water not all that enticing to patrons, it is unfortunately inviting to bacteria, viruses, algae, all adding up to an uncomfortable and unhealthy pool.
Louisiana is known for more than its share of brutally simmering days, which is why the army base in Fort Polk chose the right artillery for its two 50-meter swimming pools: the Watercannon.
"Within 24 hours, the pool temperature dropped from 94 degrees to 84 degrees," says Marilyn Flynn, swimming pool manager. "If the cannon is left on overnight, the temperature dropped to 81 degrees. With Louisiana summers and a heat category 5, this made the summer swimming a much more enjoyable experience."
Designed with waterfalls and ocean waves in mind, the Watercannon uses the natural process of aeration to cleanse, purify and recirculate existing pool water by replenishing fresh supplies of oxygen. Manufactured by Living Waters Aeration in Provincetown, Mass., the portable, high-volume, adjustable spray water feature can drop pool water temps 15 to 20 degrees F (especially if used in the evening), depending on the variables. For most moderately sized commercial pools, a one-degree reduction per hour is average. The company recommends a minimum three-to-five-hour daily operation regimen for most pool facilities.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF FORT POLK AND LIVING WATERS AERATION|
At the Fort Polk pools, one Watercannon is positioned near the three-meter diving board in each pool.
"It can be directed where the patrons can jump into the spray," Flynn says. "The patrons absolutely love it. If the cannon is pointed in another direction, the patrons are asking us to direct it toward the board."
The lifeguard staff and poolgoers alike enjoy the cool mist they receive from the cannon as well. But the biggest change without a doubt has been the improvement in water temp and quality.
"Before, youth services had to stop bringing the summer camp children to the pool due to daily heat category 5," Flynn says. It was categorically considered too hot and thereby dangerous for outdoor activities. The addition of the Watercannon changed that. "After a safety inspection, due to cooler water temperatures, they were allowed to return to the pool," she says.
Likewise, the unit improves the water quality and clarity while reducing bacteria and algae, which in turn can reduce chemical needs.
"Preventative Medicine [at the army base] conducts weekly inspections of our pools," Flynn says. "They were elated with the water temperature drop. With cooler water temperatures, it is less likely for bacteria to grow. Samples of water are taken from the pool. Since using the cannons, no abnormal colonies have been detected. Chlorine levels are also easier to maintain due to cooler water temperatures."
The 1.5-hp Watercannon pumps 98 gallons per minute, while the 3-hp unit pumps 160 gpm—both through a two-inch intake hose with three hydro-flo suction safety covers. Each cover is safety-rated for 200 gpm (totally 600 gpm); these three oversized safety covers are strategically designed in a fanning position to prevent the possible blockage of all three by one person. Commercial units are only sold to supervised facilities.
At Fort Polk, Flynn originally thought the Watercannons might interfere with lap swim, so they weren't used during those times. But the outcry from the lappers had Flynn turning the units back on, adjusted to the fine-mist setting.
"The regular lap swimmers are elated over the cooler temperatures," she says. Interestingly, the unit has created another option. "Stationary lap swimming has been implemented. The cannon is pointed directly into the water while the swimmer swims into the stream. Due to the force of the stream, the swimmer is held stationary," she says.
All in all, the pools at Fort Polk are much more comfortable—and fun—thanks to the Watercannon.
"I was really amazed how much it cools," Flynn says. "I received tons of comments on the water temperature. People come to the pool to be refreshed—now suddenly, the pool water became refreshing."
Of course, the kids just love jumping and playing in the spray.
"If I could, I'd put one at both ends of the pool," she says, "just for fun."
For more information
Living Waters Aeration: 508-240-6393