Feature Article - February 2007
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

By Jessic Royer Ocken


CARING FOR AIR

The move toward more automated systems may not only simplify your water sanitization process. If you've got an indoor facility, this can help with air quality as well.

New products on the market are designed to take indoor air samples and monitor the level of chloramines present. Chloramines are formed when the levels of "free" chlorine used to kill germs are not sufficiently high to oxidize natural waste products like sweat, body oil and urine. Instead of oxidizing these wastes, the too-low levels of chlorine combine with them to form chloramines.

When the levels of chloramines get too high—causing itchy eyes, dry skin and that infamous smell—the system sends a signal to your air-handling system and replaces as much air as needed to bring the chloramines back to a more pleasant plateau.

Over time, lower levels of chloramines may help reduce corrosion of your facility's components. Another benefit? A system like this ensures that you're replacing only the air you need to and avoids unnecessary heat loss when it's cold outside.

Other air systems are designed to keep a handle on humidity, which can be particularly unpleasant in facilities that are used for more than aquatic pursuits. The sensation of swimming in a rainforest atmosphere may be just fine, but if you're working out or attending a class in an adjacent area of the building, being damp and sticky is not likely to enhance the experience.

The newest of these dehumidifying systems also coordinate closely with the building's HVAC setup. The new Student Recreation Center at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., includes one of these systems, which keeps the building's weight rooms, climbing wall and exercise areas at a pleasant 55-percent relative humidity and recycles the heat generated in this process to warm the building and the water in the pool.

Once you're on the road to this sort of environmentally friendly efficiency, you may find it hard to stop. "We're working with the design and planning department on campus, and there's also an effort by students to make more of our buildings green and efficient," reported Joe R. Carter, director of university recreation at Appalachian State University. "We're wondering how to capture the evaporation lost in dehumidification."

If collected for a year, this water would be approximately equal to the 637,000 gallons it takes to fill the pool. "It's already being filtered, so if we could reclaim it, that would be a savings," Carter said.