Dealing With Swamp Pools

When temperatures soar and pools are getting a lot of use, multiple factors that can quickly combine and turn pool water from clean to green overnight. It's important for service professionals to understand the factors that can turn a pool into a swamp, in order to take steps to prevent pool water from turning green. It's also important to understand how to quickly clean up those swamp pools as needed.

Summer Storms

Summer storms and severe weather can be a huge contributor to water quality issues in pools. And in some parts of the country, flooding can cause mud and debris to find its way into pool water. Mud carries a wide variety of contaminants into the pool, including algae. These same storms also frequently knock out the power. When this happens, pool pumps will stop circulating the water and the pool water can rapidly turn bad without circulation, especially in the hot days of summer.

Pool Parties

Summer is obviously the time of year when park and rec pools have a huge number of patrons for everything from swim lessons and competitions to open swim hours. Higher bather loads, hotter temperatures and longer periods of time when the pool is being used cause a higher demand for chlorine. In fact, chlorine can be completely consumed within hours during a hot afternoon. This can lead to fast algae growth when the pool is packed with swimmers who bring dirt, sand, bacteria, sunscreen and other organics into the water. It's often overlooked, but if swimmers bring their own pool toys, inflatables or even swimsuits that have previously been in a lake or river, then algae can be carried directly to the pool. If the pool is not super-chlorinated, cleaned and thoroughly brushed soon after high bather loads, then algae can appear rapidly.

Lack of Filtration and Circulation

Moving water is healthy water. However, water that is not moving will increase the potential for algae to grow. It is imperative during hot weather for the pool to receive sufficient filter turnover time and good circulation throughout the pool. During the summer, the pool should filter a minimum of 10 to 12 hours per day or the required turnover rate specified by local codes. Return jets should be positioned to prevent dead spots and to ensure the greatest amount of flow and movement throughout the pool. Remember that insufficient filtration can lead to additional cost from increased chemicals and treatments of algaecides in hot weather. Filtration and circulation are vital during and after heavy swimmer loads, summer storms and the dog days of summer heat .

What to Do When the Pool Has Become a Swamp

Chlorine is still one of the most effective killers of algae, so a super-chlorination of 10 to 20 ppm of chlorine can go a long way toward wiping out the algae. Bromine has been shown to be an even faster killer than chlorine, so choosing a two-part bromine algae system where you add the algae product and follow with a chlorine or a chlorine-free oxidizer to produce active bromine, can be highly effective. These systems can kill algae within 24 hours. Immediately after adding chlorine or bromine algae products, it is important to follow with a chitosan-based clarifier to help floc and remove dead algae to the filter. The clarifier should be dosed at three to four times the normal maintenance level and can continue to be used throughout the cleanup process. The pool filter should be run 24 hours until all algae has cleared. Once the algae is cleared, the filter should be thoroughly cleaned. A good preventive algaecide may be added to prevent additional outbreaks through the end of the season.

Wrap It Up

Algae exudes a hydrocarbon and can leave plenty of oily residue behind in pool water and in the filter media. Using a good broad-spectrum enzyme after heavy algae growth can help clean the water and surfaces. Also, the enzymes will help break down any additional non-living organic material, which could cause chemicals to degrade faster. Then proceed to your in-season maintenance program.

Remember the 3 Ps

Remember that proper pool care is based on three very important Ps: prevent disease, protect equipment, and provide the expected swimming experience. Maintaining adequate sanitation is a key element to proper pool and spa maintenance as it keeps bathers safe from disease while also keeping pool water clean, clear and free of algae. Using an oxidizer on a weekly basis, adding a preventive algaecide, good physical maintenance and select ancillary products round out the key components of a program that maximizes the impact of the sanitizer and helps provide the expected environment for swimmers.

The last thing any pool professional wants to deal with is an algae outbreak. Stick to the three Ps, watch the weather and finish out the summer season with good quality water.



Alicia Stephens is the education and training manager for Biolab Inc. In her 21 years with the company, she has focused primarily on education, training and development, as well as technical support and new product research and integration. Currently, Stephens supports all education and training initiatives for the Biolab Pro Dealer division.



Alicia Stephens