Facility Profile - November 2003
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Swim Clean

Cook/Douglas Recreation Center at Rutgers University
New Brunswick, N.J.

By Jenny E. Beeh

There are not many jobs less appealing than scrubbing and vacuuming a pool by hand. Ugh. Not to mention, all the chemicals, manpower and the time commitment involved. And even then, your pool might not be as clean as you think.

Needless to say, it was certainly not a chore cherished by the aquatic staff for the eight-lane, 25-meter pool at the Cook/Douglas Recreation Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. Their old-school pool maintenance routine seemed downright primitive, sucking up a few hours a day at least several days a week.

"It really didn't do the job in a timely fashion," says Al Gomez, assistant director of recreation. "Then after cleaning, we even hired the scuba instructor to run the vacuum underwater. So you can see what a maintenance issue it was."

Especially with the pool's bustling 7 a.m.-to-11 p.m. schedule—accommodating practice for two high-school swim teams, local YMCA aquatic programs and, of course, Rutger's own students and staff—free time for maintenance was tight, and the pool definitely needed a good cleaning after all that use.

For a solution, Gomez turned to a robot for help. Specifically, he added an UltraMax aquabot by Aqua Products of Cedar Grove, N.J., to his maintenance arsenal. Since then, the results have been, well, sparkling.

"You're talking about going from a major issue to a nonissue—it's night and day," Gomez says about keeping the pool clean and safe now. "It's remarkable, and the water is much cleaner, plus it saves money and time."

An aquabot is a completely self-contained unit that patrols the pool bottom and sides (regardless of inclines), scrubbing, vacuuming, micro-filtering and circulating water with a strong pumping force. Dual, motor-driven, foot-long rotating scrubbing brushes loosen fine algae, water deposits, and other stubborn debris and stains out of the pool's fine pores, from the floor to the waterline. Meanwhile, it vacuums the loosened debris into its internal reusable micro-filter bags. All kinds of debris are filtered from the pool, from large leaves, small twigs and coins to fine sand, algae and bacteria as small as 2 microns in size.

While the obvious upside is that the robot does all the dirty work (saving humans the trouble), it also can significantly reduce pool maintenance expenses, including chemicals, energy, water, labor and filter wear-and-tear. For example, chemical consumption can sometimes be reduced as much as 30 percent due to the recirculation of fallen chemicals.

A robot can tackle any pool surface, from concrete to vinyl. In the case of the Rutgers pool, which is lined with ceramic tile, the unit has no problems negotiating tight corners, steep sides or other obstacles.

"It goes over anything and doesn't tip," Gomez says. "Even those new anti-vortex covers."


According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of public swimming pools have health violations

Increasing numbers of pool-associated outbreaks of gastroenteritis prompted the investigation by the CDC, which concluded that poor pool maintenance and operation, untrained pool staff, the potential presence of the chlorine-resistant pathogen, and lagging swimmer education are all contributing factors in the spread of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs).

In the CDC investigation, researchers studied data collected from more than 22,131 pool inspections conducted by a sampling of local county or state health inspection programs. More than half of all pools inspected had one or more violations.

Of the total 21,561 violations of pool codes reviewed by the CDC, nearly 40 percent were water-chemistry violations, and a similar percentage of pools were found to have filtration and water recirculation violations. The remaining percentage of violations (about 20 percent) dealt with policy or management issues.

Overall, about 8 percent of the inspections resulted in immediate closure of the pool pending corrections of serious violation items (for example, lack of disinfectant).

Only about a quarter of pool types could be ascertained from the data, according to the report. Among this group, the highest number of violations occurred in child wading pools followed by medical/therapy pools and hotel and motel pools.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For more information, visit www.healthyswimming.org

For more information
Aqua Products: 800-221-1750