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James Amburgey has always loved water, but he also knows how dangerous it can be without proper water quality management.

“We understand a lot about treating drinking water, but we need to apply this knowledge selectively in the aquatics industry to develop better standard operating procedures and set higher goals for treating recreational water and preventing the rising number of documented waterborne disease outbreaks,” says Amburgey, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and founder of Water Treatment Research Inc.

Amburgey is doing his part with groundbreaking research on how different filtration systems and filter aids can reduce the danger of waterborne pathogens such as cryptosporidium. So far, he has analyzed the effectiveness of various chemical polymers (clarifiers) used in combination with standard sand filtration systems in removing crypto.

“We found that with a single pass through a sand filter without any clarifier, 25 percent of the crypto oocysts were removed, but by adding a clarifier, pool operators can remove significantly more, greater than 99 percent,” Amburgey says. “A common idea of the past is that if you keep the pool chlorinated, everything will be fine. But [based on our findings], I don’t think you can rely on that. You need a second barrier — filtration plus a chemical clarifier — to provide an adequate shield against waterborne disease outbreaks.”