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Commercial Aquatics Australia advise facilities on swimming pool maintenance during COVID-19 closure

Commercial Aquatics Australia, providers of aquatic solutions across Australia are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and following the Government calling for all swimming pools to close by midnight 25th March 2020, have shared their advice on what facilities should do with their swimming pool during this period.

“We understand a number of privately owned centres are simply ‘hitting the emergency stop button’ and walking out, as well as a number of Government facilities run by third party operators being told their services are no longer required and as such facilities have been switched off.

“An immediate and complete shutdown of your swimming pool/s is the last resort and is not recommended as long term and sometimes irreparable damage can result in both filtration systems and pool structures.

To quote an extract from a recent Royal Life Saving Society - Australia statement;

“To the Federal, State and Territory and Local Governments, we urge that you:

  • Take steps now to ensure that every pool that was open on 1st March 2020 will be operational, has a skilled workforce and is ready to re‐open when they are given the green light to do so.

  • This means ensuring that these vital swimming pools and Swim Schools are maintained during this period of closure. Pools left to fall into disrepair are very difficult and costly to re‐instate. They are prone to damage and failures. Long‐term closures will have significant impacts on health, safety and wellbeing.

  • Ensure that funds are available to retain key operational staff, whether directly employed by councils, or facility operators. These staff will be required to ensure pool maintenance.”

First and foremost, it must be emphasised that pool filtration and structural designs are generally based around operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, with constant water temperature and water loading.

“What we mean by is that all calculations, product technical data, water balance parameters and geotechnical conditions have been used to ensure its meets and exceeds design life. You must not empty or turn off a pool and expect it to survive over a prolonged period.”

Issues that can arise due to shut down of a pool system (full of water);

  • Stagnant water and subsequent microbial growth throughout pool systems.

  • Risk of infection as a result of biofilm formation within the pool, system pipework and equipment.

  • Any warranty held may be void due to improper care, maintenance and incorrect water balance.

  • Pumps, heaters and other pool equipment can corrode, seize and block.

  • Increased risks to operators during system restart due to the requirements to handle algae-filled water.

  • Increased water consumption through a requirement of dumping the entire pool volume on restart.

  • Costs incurred cleaning the pool prior to re-opening are significant and usually higher than running the system at a reduced capacity.

Issues that can arise due to shut down and subsequent emptying of a pool;

  • Structural integrity can be compromised through the shifting loads of the pool. Every time a pool is filled or drained structural movement can occur.

  • Tiled, render and plaster finishes can become “drummy” due to moisture reduction, water pressure changes and largely varying temperatures no longer kept constant by the mass water body and subject to external temperatures.

  • Pools subject to hydrostatic pressure may uplift/float.

  • Many apartment and hotel pools are installed on vibration isolation acoustic mounts or springs, tensioned slabs and the like that will rise should the water be emptied (weight load reduced) causing issues to surrounding finishes and pipework.

  • Cost and time, as well as possible rectification works required to bring the pool back into a safe and hygienic state will far outweigh the savings of having the pool empty.

  • Any warranty held may be void.

Our advice during this period is;

  • Contact your pool maintenance provider who can talk you through the specific steps for your system or complete these works on your behalf. We are able to provide facility inspections to review your equipment condition and on-site assistance in preparing your pools for this low-use period.

  • Chlorination levels can be reduced to minimum 1.0mg/l and pH at 7.6 to 7.8 (with no bather load, the required disinfection will reduce significantly).

  • Check chemical concentrations and pH daily and adjust if necessary (ensure log books are completed to meet any warranty obligations).

  • Monitor chemical levels to determine revised re-stock requirements (allow additional lead time due to possible supply issues).

  • Heating can be turned off, provided the water is cooled naturally to ambient temperature. Water should not be lowered more than 2 degrees per 24 hour period. (Consult your pool maintenance provider regarding draining down or bypass of heating system if required).

  • UV & Ozone systems can be turned off.

  • Pool circulation is to continue to allow movement of water throughout pool pipework, gutters, equipment and balance tanks. This can be reduced to no less than 50% of the design flow rate. Water flow may need to be adjusted to ensure movement through the full depth of water.

  • Pool blankets can be used, however must be removed for 1 day in every 7 to allow the build-up of gas between the blanket and water surface to dissipate.

  • Ensure you continue with regular pool service and maintenance (all required weekly, monthly, 6 monthly and annual tasks do not change with COVID-19).

  • Super chlorination in line with standard procedures can be performed during this period, however super chlorinating to high levels and not reducing the level back within range will void all warranties, bleach pool liners and effect many pool finishes, fixtures and fittings.

  • Take this time to review any significant/major works required, annual services, shut downs, filter media changes, tiling repairs and anything that is normally not achievable without significant planning around consumer interruption.

Not all facilities, situations or scenarios are all the same, if you have any questions or comments around the above information or specific to your facility that you wish to discuss please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Commercial Aquatics.

Click here to contact Commercial Aquatics via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.

Article Courtesy of Australasian Leisure Management

For further information please click here

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