Aquatic Maintenance Is “Serious” Fun

Editor’s Note: This column, “LBWA” (Leadership By Wandering Around), is based on the premise that, in order to find out what’s going on in the field, a parks and rec leader has to leave his or her desk and “wander around” the area of operations, talk to people, ask questions, and kick around ideas with the individuals in the thick of delivering services to the public. So the author will bring up issues and ask the leaders among the readership to share their knowledge and experiences.

Lakes and other natural bodies of water need regular maintenance. Photo Courtesy Randy Gaddo

Because aquatic facilities are usually some of the most popular of parks and recreation offerings, maintenance professionals should focus on keeping these areas safe and clean.

Many people only think of swimming pools when aquatic facilities are mentioned, but there are several categories that can be classified under the “aquatic” umbrella; maintenance staff should note that each category requires different care, cleaning, and operations.

Define The Type Of Facility

To begin, there are different types of swimming pools. Probably the most common are the seasonal, outdoor pools opened during the warmer months (the exact time frame varies by climate). Then there are outdoor heated pools that remain open longer, or in some cases, year-round.

Indoor pools can further be defined as competition or recreational, or both. These facilities are designated by the type of structure that surrounds the pool (or pools if more than one are under the same cover), and whether the structure is permanent or temporary.

Temporary structures are further divided by type, such as air-supported or framed-supported fabric or hard-shell of varying types.

The type of water treatment also introduces variables to the maintenance equation, whether by liquid chlorine, chlorine tablets, or salt ionization (and that depends on a heavy or light bather load).

Each of these pool types and the use requires specialized maintenance. For example, in an enclosed structure, air exchange is critically important to ensure safe breathing for staff members and patrons, so more attention should be given to the specialized air-handling equipment. Also, enclosed structures may have more unusual corrosion on certain materials.

Splash Pads And Spray Parks

Many cities have found that replacing swimming pools with above-ground spray parks is more economically feasible in providing summer or year-round aquatic entertainment.

Spray parks, along with variants such as splash pads or spray pools, have little or no standing water, and generally no deep water. Water is drained away to be treated, repurified, and recirculated, or used for landscape irrigation. This feature negates the need for lifeguards and reduces liability for accidents; however, maintenance and water quality are still critically important.

Regular maintenance site-visits to spray parks should include a visual inspection, litter collection, and pad cleaning, according to suggestions on the website of Snider & Associates, a recreation and sports-product company serving Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

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