Guest Column - January 2010
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Updated Aquatics
Technology Helps Improve Operations

By Barry Gertz

Swimming pools have always been part of the summer to-do list. But pools are becoming increasingly popular year-round. The addition of recreational elements like splash play areas and mini-waterparks are causing a renewed interest in municipal pools, YMCAs and similar facilities.

According to Recreation Management's 2009 State of the Industry Report, more than half (54.9 percent) of those polled said their facility included an aquatic component. In fact, three of the top four biggest changes in the survey from the previous year, were increases in outdoor aquatic facilities, splash play areas and waterparks (up 10.1 percent).

Facility operators know that in addition to installing aquatic recreational elements they must improve efficiency. So how does a facility increase efficiency, handle increased bather loads and comply with stricter environmental laws, all at a time of budget and staff cuts? Technology.

Technology is making recreational swimming safer for swimmers, cleaner for the environment and more accessible to people worldwide. In addition, new technologies allow facilities to reduce, reuse and recycle water. One of the key elements is the use of automatic regenerative media filters (RMF) instead of high-rate sand filtration. This filtration system requires no backwashing, saving up to 90 percent of waste water and 40 percent of electricity.

Every day, more and more cities worldwide are requiring new construction to be "green." Whether building a new facility or just refurbishing an existing park, regenerative media filters can help builders achieve that goal—including earning LEED certification points.

RMF technology operates on the premise of surface filtration, and offers tremendous dirt holding capacity, which extends filter cycles to weeks or even months. Extended filter cycles and automatic operation results in less routine maintenance, saving labor costs. The reduction in backwash water also means that less "make-up" water needs to be reheated and retreated with chemicals. Operators report more than 30 percent savings on chemicals and heating fuel. Fewer chemicals and less fuel saves money and increases efficiency.

Since there is so much less waste water, it becomes critical to maintain optimum pool water quality. Regenerative media filters can remove particles down to 1 micron. This allows for more than 99.9 percent of cryptosporidium to be removed in a single pass. Crypto outbreaks are one of the leading causes of pool closures nationwide. Furthermore, RMF media is safe to drain to the municipal sewer, eliminating the need for holding tanks or the concern of waste flow rate restrictions.

Many operators have been installing UV sanitation systems to help combat recreational waterborne illnesses (RWIs). The superfine filtration provided by RMF filters also increases UV sanitation efficiency. A regenerative media filter combined with a UV sanitation system becomes the best defense against RWIs. Additionally, the combination of these two systems allows for reduced chlorine usage.