Headlines around the world call attention to global warming, drought conditions, carbon footprint reduction and going “green.” Is it even possible to build and maintain a waterpark in these conditions?
When it comes to waterparks, one of the toughest obstacles is overcoming public perception. The visitor sees what appears to be an endless stream of water flowing all over the park. What they don’t see are the very strict measures that parks take to conserve water behind the scenes.
On average, a 100,000-square-foot waterpark resort might use 125,000 to 160,000 gallons of water per day. In comparison, golf courses in the United States consume an average of 300,000 to 500,000 gallons of water per day, according to Eric Hansen, development services director at Hotel & Leisure Advisors in Cleveland.
In addition, new technologies enable waterparks to reduce, reuse and recycle water. One of the key elements is the use of regenerative media filters (RMF) instead of high-rate sand filtration. This filtration system requires no backwashing, saving up to 90 percent of wastewater. It also eliminates the need for a backwash holding tank.
Every day, more and more cities worldwide are requiring new construction to be “green.” Whether building a new waterpark or just refurbishing an existing park, regenerative media filters can help builders achieve that goal — including earning LEED certification points.
RMF technology operates on the premise of surface filtration and offers tremendous dirt holding capacity, which extends filter cycles to weeks or even months. The reduction in backwash water also means that less “makeup” water needs to be reheated and retreated with chemicals.
Operators report more than 30 percent savings on chemicals and heating fuel, which helps reduce the carbon footprint.
Additional features that reduce the carbon and water footprints are reduced electricity usage and saving on construction room. Regenerative media filters operate at a lower head (TDH) compared with traditional sand filters, thus saving motor horsepower. When paired with a variable frequency drive (VFD), electrical usage may be cut up to 30 percent. The RMF mechanical footprint requires less than one quarter of the space occupied by sand filters, which significantly saves on construction costs.
Because so much more waste water is being eliminated, it becomes critical to maintain optimum pool water quality. Regenerative media filters can remove particles down to 1 micron. This allows for more than 99.9 percent of cryptosporidium to be removed in a single pass, according to testing performed by University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The superfine filtration of the water also increases UV sanitation efficiency.
So an additional benefit is that a regenerative media filter combined with a UV sanitation system becomes the best defense against recreational waterborne illnesses (RWIs).
Here are three examples of waterparks with extreme weather conditions that are benefiting from RMF.
1. Australia, suffering its worst drought in a century, is home to WhiteWater World in Queensland. According to Angus Hutchings, the park’s environmental manager, the regenerative media filtration has the most impact on their water conservation. They use 90 percent less water and save approximately 23 million liters of water per year. Additionally, in an independent, third-party water efficiency audit conducted by Environmental Resources Management Australia, WhiteWater World has been given the highest efficiency rating possible for a waterpark.
2.Wild Wadi Waterpark, located in Dubai, UAE, has been attracting thousands of guests from all over the world. And that’s creating an operational challenge as a result of the extremely high bather loads combined with scorching temperatures and year-round operation. In an effort to reduce water usage, the park installed one regenerative media filter to test on the children’s pool. This resulted in a 93 percent drop in backwash requirements, as reported by Chris Perry, director of operations. Eventually, all filters were replaced with regenerative media filters, saving 600,000 gallons of water in the first month alone.
3. In 2008, North Carolina suffered from its worst drought on record. That’s also the same year Great Wolf Lodge Resorts broke ground on a new, 80,000-square-foot waterpark resort in Concord. Great Wolf relied on regenerative media filters along with other water-saving measures to gain approval for construction. Great Wolf Lodge Resorts began using regenerative media filtration systems in 2004. Since installing regenerative media filters, the waterparks use 80- to 90 percent less water than two of its earlier installations that include sand filters, says Steve Shattuck, the resort chain’s communications director.
Because the filtration was so efficient, Great Wolf management began to notice that the hotel portion of the resorts used twice as much water per day as the waterpark components — not something anyone would expect. As a result, the company launched Project Green Wolf, which included rewriting nearly every page of its operational procedures manuals. Regenerative media filtration systems were written in as the new standard to maximize recycling and reuse, as well as reducing chemical use in the waterparks.