Thanks to recent technological advances, pools have undergone some pretty impressive changes in the past 20 years.

Aquatics facility managers now have the ability to control all facets of a pool via an automated system, and the technology is becoming more reliable and financially accessible. ?Microprocessor circuits have enabled much more stable electronics and less maintenance,? says Bob Kappel, a regional sales manager with Siemens Water Technologies Corp in Warrendale, Pa.

Digital chemical controllers are perhaps the most notable example of automation. ?Digital chemical controllers have made water management much easier and more precise,? says industry consultant Mark Duda of Duda Inc. in St. Johns, Fla. ?The use of chemical controllers has saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars on the usage of chemicals.?

These advances mean the capability for remote monitoring is emerging. Operators can view pool conditions from virtually any computer terminal, enabling them to act much more proactively. When problems do occur, they can be corrected quicker than ever before.

Today?s pool operators have some other advantages as well. Thanks to the development and refinement of stronger plastics, pool equipment is more chemical-resistant and less maintenance-intensive than in the past. ?We can [now] use plastics in pumps of higher horsepower,? Kappel notes. These pumps cause less problems with dielectrics and are lighter, and therefore less expensive ship, according to Duda.

When it comes to pumps, another advancement has been the incorporation of variable frequency drives. VFDs ?replace the starter on a three-phase pump and work similar to a dimmer switch for a light,? Duda says. They are not necessarily a new technology, but in the past 20 years, ?the cost of the VFD products has decreased to the point where they really make sense for pool people,? Kappel says. ?Now we can save energy and buy the [variable-speed pumps] at a price where we can get a return on investment in less than a year.?

Experts such as Dr. Alison Osinski, Ph.D., Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego believe that, spurred by legislative action as a result of concerns over RWIs and water conservation, the trend toward automation and technological advances will continue. But with more sophisticated pool systems, operators will need more training on how to properly run and maintain them.