Guest Column - March 2011
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Design Corner

Making Aquatics More Cost-Effective

By David Schwartz

Some examples of cost effective choices follow:

  • Set realistic goals and expectations.
  • Create a market plan and business plan.
  • Listen to your community for their preferences.
  • Select a site that supports your goals.
  • Use an aquatic designer without any relationship to a supplier or builder.
  • Use an aquatic designer with an engineering background as your unbiased advocate.
  • Avoid single supplier equipment recommendations.
  • Match your new design with the revenue potential.
  • Understand your demographics and market area.
  • Do not over build; bigger is not necessarily better.
  • Create multi-use areas for multiple program use.
  • Balance capital cost goals with sustainable operating cost projections.
  • Avoid pool structures not designed by a licensed professional engineer.
  • Avoid oversized pool structures—potentially big due to designer's inexperience.
  • Understand your chemical costs; avoid sales jargon.
  • Understand your pool coating renewal frequency versus first cost.
  • Be aware of water treatment trends and size equipment appropriately now.
  • Use variable frequency drive pumps where beneficial.
  • Avoid using multiple small pumps for a single pool—do the hydraulics.
  • Invest in a subgrade design that reduces risks of expansive soils or frost heaving.
  • Consider phasing multiple waterslides and other large play equipment.
  • Keep records of your attendance and program participation; when interest begins to drop, add or adjust features or programs to keep pace with your market.

Some items are general in nature and will be useful for most facilities. Others are more specific, so they may not apply to all situations. We hope this discussion helps you take a fresh look at your aquatic facilities and how you can implement these cost-effective ideas for years to come.


With more than three decades of experience, Dave Schwartz has become one of the leading experts in aquatic design in the United States. From evaluating, planning and designing hundreds of pools, Dave is known for his technical knowledge and assists in forensics litigation from Hawaii to New York. Currently, Dave serves on the national Model Aquatic Health Code committee to help make aquatics safer in the United States. Dave's capabilities and manner of applying aquatic design services make him a highly sought-after and referred consultant. For more information, visit