Feature Article - February 2006
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

Just Add Water

By Kelli Anderson


SELECTION FACTORS

Sinks, lockers and toilet partitions also need to be selected based on durability, design and, of course, cost. But choosing basic and durable materials doesn't have to be institutional. Adding amenities such as suit dryers, hair dryers, and dispensers of shampoos and soaps along with attention to service-oriented details like efficient towel supplies will help users feel well cared for. This is especially true when the environment is kept clean and clear of debris.


SEEING THE LIGHT

Increasingly, recreational water illnesses (RWIs) have taken center stage as hard-to-kill pathogens like cryptosporidium (crypto) or giardia make outbreak headlines.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disinfecting agents like chlorine or bromine kill most RWI germs in less than an hour. However, pathogens like crypto or giardia, notorious bad-boys of the pathogen lineup, survive much longer in disinfected water—long enough even to spread their ill-effects in well-maintained pools.

Aquatic centers and facilities are discovering the advantages, however, of introducing the pathogen-fighting properties of ultra-violet (UV) light and ozonation systems (some methods of which also use UV light in the creation of ozone) that can disinfect pools and remove organic and inorganic contaminants thousands of times faster than traditional chemical treatments alone.

Ozonation, a system of water treatment that dates back almost 200 years, uses two common methods to produce on-site ozone. If properly calibrated to the needs of each specific pool to ensure that the correct contact time with and concentration of ozone is in the water, ozonation is not only effective against pathogens but also acts as a coagulant. In combining with contaminants, ozonation makes unwanted elements larger and thereby easier to filter out.

Ozonation and UV systems also have the ability to reduce the formation of chloramines, the highly-corrosive, tissue-aggravating, smelly scourge of the chlorinated pool. Chloramines have less chance to form when the concentration of chlorine is significantly reduced (up to 50 percent) by the addition of ozonation and UV systems. Not a bad cost savings, either.

However, UV systems, in addition to reducing the need for chlorine, also fight chloramines by breaking them down into more harmless components of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and chloride.

Touted benefits even include the claim of faster swim times for competitive swimmers for those who use ozonated water, while UV system fans will rave about the ease of use, affordable cost and resulting ultra-clear, sparkling qualities of water treated with UV light.

First and foremost, however, these systems are growing in popularity thanks to their abilities to fight pathogens and improve recreational water. Although experts will differ on what system is best, depending on factors of use, kinds of systems already in place and specific needs being addressed, the advantages these microbial technologies offer in public health and facility benefits are worth noting.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WATERBORNE PATHOGENS AND PREVENTION:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming

The National Swimming Pool Foundation, www.nspf.org

The National Spa and Pool Institute, www.nspi.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT UV AND OZONATION TECHNOLOGIES:

The International Ultraviolet Association, www.iuva.org

Aquatic Consulting Services, www.alisonosinski.com/pdf/pool_tip_54.pdf