"In my experience, during hard times people stay home, so the demand for parks and municipal recreation increases," says Randy Mendioroz, founder and principal of Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif. Perhaps that's one reason his company is not seeing a large downturn in business yet. That said, Mendioroz is quick to acknowledge that "moving forward, a lot of people are scared."

So how is the lack of consumer confidence affecting the projects his team is working on? "People are asking, 'How can we cut back on utilities costs'" he says. "A lot of facilities have capital funding, but limited operational costs." As a result, he expects the economic downturn to continue to fuel the desire for green technologies.

Another consideration for those looking to minimize operational costs is programming. Operators should plan to attract the widest mix of guests possible, and this means focus on leisure. As he notes, "[In today's market], you'll lose money hand over fist with just a basic rectangular pool."