I’m contemplating two April events that
seemingly have nothing to do with each other, but are
actually inexorably linked: the annual Aquatics
International salary survey and Earth Day.
What could a salary survey and an environmental
awareness celebration have in common? Call it the Green
For the past four years, we’ve been conducting
our salary survey, and every year the results point to the
same thing: Aquatics professionals don’t get paid
very well. This year, getting paid at all has become an
issue as state and local governments grapple with the worst
economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nearly 70
percent of you say your facility has fallen victim to the
budgetary chopping block.
The larger picture here is that aquatics is in the midst
of a fundamental shift. On the most basic level, what it
means is that many of you are having to do more, or as
much, with less. That’s Green Gap No.
That brings me to Green Gap No. 2 and Earth Day.
Whatever else you think about environmentalism,
it’s all about doing more, or as much, with less.
Less energy. Less waste. Less consumption.
So it’s puzzling, and downright irksome, to me
that aquatics professionals seem so unwilling to embrace
green initiatives. In January we ran a story that I thought
was very exciting:
A bill was before Congress to offer 30 percent rebates
for solar heating installations. That would mean switching
from pricey gas-powered heat to free solar could be more
doable than ever. The industry’s reaction? A
That’s pretty much the attitude toward most
green initiatives that we’ve been writing about
since 2006, when we did our first Green Issue. From
variable frequency drives to fuel cells, the technology and
ideas we presented produced less excitement than a Brown
Alert at most facilities.
I know that investing in green technology is not cheap.
And at a time when budgets are tight, I can’t
expect everyone to jump on board. But that argument just
doesn’t hold water when it comes to the most
inexpensive and effective green equipment: pool covers.
Here’s a product that can save as much as 40
percent in fuel, water and chemical costs. That’s
relatively cheap and easy to use. And that is hated almost
as much as black algae.
I get that taking pool covers on and off is work. What I
don’t get is how aquatics operators can watch
their budgets shrink — their own livelihoods put
at risk — and still say, “Covers? Who
I’ve advocated for higher pay and benefits for
aquatics professionals since I became editor of this
magazine. I still believe they’re woefully
underpaid and underappreciated. But until every facility
operator at least starts using pool covers, until they
start recognizing that an important part of their job is
running the most cost-efficient facility possible, that
Green Gap won’t change.