Problem Solver - August 2013
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Make Your Pool More Sustainable & Cost-Effective

Every company needs to make the best use of their operational budget. Short-term cost considerations shouldn't stand in the way of long-term growth. In the pool business, investing wisely to realize significant organizational savings is easy, but it does take some planning.

The swimming pool and aquatic recreation industry has changed dramatically over the years. Sustainability as we all know is in the forefront of every business decision, or at least should be. The cost of water has doubled in places, tripled in others, and gauging the price of fuel is a guessing game at best. Reducing water and energy usage not only helps facilities make their operations a little more environmentally friendly, but also can offer significant savings.

Q: We're concerned about the rapidly rising costs of water, electricity, fuel and chemicals to service our pool. We need to sustain a healthy operational budget. What areas should we consider to save over the long term and realize ROI?

A: First, consider resources like water and wastewater, fuel and chemicals, and electricity. The U.S. average for water and sewer costs is $7 per 1,000 gallons. For electricity, it's $0.08 to $0.12 per kilowatt hour. Fuel and chemicals include gas or oil for heating, chemicals for maintaining your pool's water and storage for those chemicals. The costs for many of these materials has fluctuated dramatically over the past several years.

Also, look at your facility's footprint. Consider the labor costs to build or retrofit, your mechanical room space and backwash holding tanks. Another important consideration is whether you are looking to earn LEED points or otherwise improve your facility's environmental footprint.

Finally, don't forget to take ongoing equipment maintenance into consideration. You want to ensure that your existing staff is able to handle the maintenance requirements for all of your pool's equipment.

With all this in mind, you can turn your attention to selecting equipment for your pool. For example, the filter you choose can have a dramatic impact on your long-term savings.

Q: Why does the choice of filter make a difference?

A: In terms of sustainability, this can be one of the most important choices you make as a builder or owner. In years past, there have basically been a few choices: cartridge, diatomaceous earth (DE) and sand filters. In recent times, more eco-friendly filters have become available and are now widely accepted, such as the regenerative media filters.

In terms of recreational facilities and commercial pools, it's the front room that brings them in, but the back room that saves you money. Cartridge filters are hard to clean, expensive to replace and do not get the water quality you get when DE is used. DE, on the other hand, has great water quality but is often not chosen because it is messy to work with and difficult to dispose of because it is a carcinogen. Sand filters tend to be user-friendly, but have a large footprint and use extra energy and water for backwashing.

A better choice would be the new generation filters. This type of filter removes particles as small as 1 micron from the water, protecting swimmers from a wider range of dangerous microorganisms. It also has a small footprint, is easy to use and clean, and brings water and electrical consumption down drastically. Whatever you decide, just keep in mind that a little planning on your part has the potential to bring in more to your bottom line.