Our environment is changing! No, I
am not espousing (nor denying) global warming. I’m speaking
of the business environment for commercial pools. Local government
budgets are under scrutiny. Universities, hotels, condos, fitness
clubs and country clubs alike are being asked to justify their
swimming pool staff and pool expenses. In addition, we are in a new
world of public aquatic legislation.
Fortunately, advancements in aquatic equipment promise to change
the landscape just as much. New innovations will bring more value
to your members and guests; reduce the cost of operation; and
perhaps even bring you some peace of mind.
At the equipment room level, these changes won’t be
obvious. In fact, I don’t expect the look of the equipment
room to change much. Basic equipment will improve incrementally,
while many of today’s optional components will earn their
worth as standard equipment. But changes will still happen. Pumps
will continue to pump, but at what speed? Heaters will heat, but
what will be their source of energy?
Filtration will undergo a similar quiet evolution. Look for tank
materials to continue their evolution toward polymers and away from
metal. Manufacturing processes may become more efficient, and there
will be incremental improvements in installation and
serviceability. A sand filter — substitute media
notwithstanding — still will be the basic sand filter as we
know it. And the conventional cartridge filter will remain the
conventional cartridge filter.
A potentially significant change in filtration could be a shift
toward diatomaceous earth and DE alternatives. They could —
and should — receive extra attention because at least they
approach a level of effectiveness against
Indeed, one likely difference in future equipment will be the
ability to respond to crypto outbreaks. Immediate containment is
beyond the scope of the equipment pad. But it’s likely future
equipment will limit the spread of infection and dramatically
reduce downtime by accelerating response.
In the absence of a silver bullet to fight RWIs, it may be
better to think of a multidisciplined cavalry. Look for a
cooperative force of finer filtration and alternative sanitizers
that are generated or dispensed automatically.
Automation itself will be one of the biggest changes.
There’s a growing expectation that in the decade ahead,
automatic sanitization will be a requirement. This movement will be
led by salt chlorine generation and supported by a variety of
supplemental sanitizers generated at the pad, including ozone and
No longer the exception to the rule as it is now, total chemical
automation will become typical. This includes automatic sensing and
recording of all critical indices for the pool. As
post-crypto-outbreak managers have learned, there is no leniency
for sporadic record-keeping for sanitizer levels and other water
quality indices. This may even include water turbidity metrics.
Remote monitoring and management of chemicals and equipment at
multiple facilities via telemetry also will become the norm.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is the first
nationwide legislation for our industry. You can expect equipment
innovations that provide additional layers of protection for your
patrons. Advancements will reduce the nuisance trips that have
discouraged installation, or at times actually resulted in the
equipment being intentionally deactivated.
Though nothing will ever take the place of vigilant
lifeguard/adult supervision, there will be advancements in safety
equipment that sense and sound an alarm when someone enters the
pool or pool area in off-hours.
A chief safety challenge that remains during operating hours is
distinguishing between a distressed bather and active play.
Technology exists that can actually recognize a person who has
become motionless. The opportunity will be for this technology to
reach price points affordable for most public pools.
Again, there is no substitution for an alert lifeguard, but
redundancy is what advances a system toward the required success.
New pools will have suction systems that are intrinsically safe
when managed and maintained properly. And, of course, it follows
that there will be monitoring equipment that supports those
Advancements in energy efficiency, meanwhile, will continue at
an epic rate. However, the adoption rate will be dependent on
manufacturers’ ability to prove the return on investment for
the commercial pool.
Energy savings will be garnered from improved plumbing
hydraulics, as well as the hydraulic design of the equipment in the
water’s path — filters, feeders and the like. While
some pumps have brought new efficiency to the hydraulic (wet end)
of the pump, great advancements have occurred at the motor and
motor control end of the pumps — with continued advancements
in multiple or variable speed pump technology.
Gas heating, both natural and propane, will slip out of vogue.
There will be no less demand for comfort and no dramatic shift in
membership to the Polar Bear Club. But there will likely be an
increase in more environmentally friendly heat sources. Commercial
heat pumps will gain popularity, with a reduction in heating costs
of up to 80 percent compared with gas heat. Solar heating is on a
resurgence. Expect further improvements in efficiency, reliability
and simplicity of control. One could also assume the inevitable
financial support of the federal government and power
Exponential advancements in LED white lighting will prove its
worth in energy savings and reduced maintenance. Not only can you
deliver comparable lumens at energy savings upwards of 85 percent,
but also time between service calls is increased 15-fold. A
30-minute bulb change every 2,000 hours may not seem bad until you
find yourself managing 40 lights at a single facility or resort.
Rather, with LED think of a light change every 10 or 15
One of the most dramatic changes in future commercial pool
equipment will actually expand how the pool is used. And it’s
Underwater lighting is no longer limited to the functional white
lighting introduced in the 1960s. Your pool can become the backdrop
for major nighttime events. In fact, it can even become the focal
point of nighttime events. Imaginative event planners already are
using pool lighting as a thematic device, such as patriotic red,
white and blue political pool parties, or 100,000 gallons of kelly
green water for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Ever see a pool dance the mambo? A bride can even have the country
club pool custom-match the color of her bridesmaids’ gowns.
It is all being done!
Your resort can have a pool light show scheduled on the hour
after the sun goes down. Imagine the buzz of patrons planning and
gathering at poolside to see the show. Think Disney’s
Electric Light Parade or the Eiffel Tower’s light
It’s only going to get bigger, better and brighter (or
subtler — depending on the ambiance that you want to