Supplement Feature - February 2015
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Change Is in the Air

Managing Healthy Air & Water in Your Aquatic Facility

By Kelli Ra Anderson

Change is in the air—and in the water. Today's aquatic managers can wield significant game-changing weapons in the battle for healthier natatorium environments. Thanks to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) guidelines released this year (the Model Aquatic Health Code, or MAHC), combined with several advances in information and technology, managing air and water quality has never been more possible. And more help is on the way.

"Advances in filtration will continue for both water and air since the need to conserve water and protect equipment costs keep rising," predicted Rich DeMoss, a marketing director with a leading water systems manufacturer. "More supplemental devices such as ozone and UV will likely be installed to reduce effects on equipment and air quality."

"The changes I see in knowledge regarding quality control in aquatic facilities are drastic from year to year, due to the increased availability in shared online information and ideas, so not only is the maintenance person typically well informed, but the onsite managers and operators are as well, said Torell Lebron Jr. an experienced installer with Chrystal Clear Pool and Spa.

And, in fact, improvements in air and water quality are only as effective as those who run the systems and understand the equipment. Just this year, a study conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials surveyed health officials around the country and the pool operators they inspect. The results were sobering. According to the study, 75 percent of health departments reported shutting down at least one pool in the past two years due to problems of turbidity, pH imbalance and inadequate chlorine.

Of those most likely to suffer pool closure under their supervision, the study noted several contributing factors. Most had inadequate training and education (were not certified), most were in positions with a high turnover rate, and 50 percent of those surveyed said they had never even heard of the MAHC. Without the right people at the helm, technological advances can only take aquatic air and water improvement so far.

"We still have a long way to go in our educational efforts when it comes to everyday consistent water quality practices," concluded Frank Schiffman, senior marketing manager with the study's partnering water treatment company.

"The entire scope of maintaining healthy air and water quality starts with the proper design and the proper equipment," said Ron George, aquatics manager for a water filtration and disinfection company based in Coventry, R.I. "However, there is not one product that is the silver bullet. The success in achieving it is understanding the basic operation of all the equipment in the pool plant room and maintaining it on a consistent daily basis. Training or lack of is the biggest hurdle that facility directors have in achieving healthy air and water quality."

For those committed to learning and implementing advances in chemical treatments, sanitization, HVAC systems and best practices, one undergirding fact is essential to understand: Air and water quality are inextricably linked. One simply cannot be improved without the other. "I believe that this issue has come to the forefront of aquatic operations," said Juliene Hefter, executive director/CEO of the Association of Aquatic Professionals. "Without proper air circulation, it is next to impossible to keep water and air quality high."