We were 30 minutes away from draining our 200,000-gallon aquatic center pool.
I was out of ideas.
I glanced down at the bottom of the pool — and no longer
could I see the black paw prints painted on the bottom of the
12-foot deep end.
This was clearly not safe for swimmers, and we would have to close
for a second day in a row, but would we have to drain and start
When I had first noticed our water turbidity issue three days
prior, I immediately took a water sample to a local pool supply
shop. The sample was analyzed, and the pH measured 7.7 and the
water tested hard. I was advised to add several products, including
sodium bicarbonate, muriatic acid and a miracle water clarifying
agent. This only helped a little. The problem remained.
Next, I visited another pool supply store. They analyzed my water
sample and made similar recommendations (also including the miracle
water clarifying agent, of course), but were unable to give me any
specific answers as to exactly what the problem was.
So there I stood, alongside our parks director, three public works
employees and our city’s public relations director. I was
supposed to be the expert among us, but I didn’t have a
solution. As we began considering draining the pool, I racked my
brain for any other possibilities.
I happened to remember the name of a local aquatics director I had
met at a recent training. This being a Sunday afternoon, I
wasn’t surprised when the front desk attendant told me he
wasn’t in. With my pool getting worse by the hour, I gave her
my phone number and asked her to have him call me back as soon as
possible. Five minutes later he did, and I explained my situation.
I was relieved to hear him say that he had dealt with the same
situation two years prior.
Though my pool's pH was in the 7.6 to 7.7 range, he recommended
keeping it at 7.2 to 7.3 with water as hard as ours. Not long after
slowly and safely adding a good dosage of muriatic acid and getting
the pH down, the black paw prints on the bottom became visible
again, and have been crystal clear ever since.
1. Never underestimate the value of networking.
The answer is out there, and meeting as many people as you can
ensures that you will know someone who has the answer.
2. Change only one variable at a time. When I
added numerous chemicals and the water cleared up only slightly, I
was unable to tell if the
minor improvement was a result of the chemicals added and, if so,
3. Know your water. Not only should you test the
pool water, but you should periodically test the tap water to see
what the water is like going in. I was previously unaware of it,
but our city had started treating the water that entered our pool
differently than in the previous year, which may have contributed
to its hardness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandon Eckhardt is the recreation specialist in aquatics at the Willard Aquatic Center in Willard, Mo. He has been in the aquatics field for 10 years, working as a lifeguard and pool manager.