Water Turbidity

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Swimming pools are a wonderful place for children and families to have a good time. Whether for swimming laps, exercising, or just having fun, a pool is a great attraction. However, the water must be clear for your patrons to be safe. Water turbidity is a serious concern and the rule is simple: If the water is so cloudy that the bottom cannot be clearly seen, then the pool must be closed. We have recently visited some that, for various reasons, were still operating despite inadequate visibility.

We could discuss the leading causes of swimming pool turbidity, like insufficient disinfectant, high pH or other chemical imbalance, and inadequate or nonexistent filtration. We could study exacerbating factors like high swimmer load, increased chlorophyll-a concentration, or elevated TDS (total dissolved solids) level, or we could note that improper procedures during back wash operations often will cloud a pool. However, such specifics of pool management are beyond the expertise or interest of most of us…as an analogy, most of us just want to use electricity, not understand precisely how it works.

Because it can take hours, sometimes even days, to rectify a serious turbidity problem, prevention is key. Continuous attention to the water chemistry and filtration is necessary to keep your pool open. Since it is rare that a water clarity problem serious enough for pool closure comes without advance warning, you normally have a window of opportunity. Aggressively address any water cloudiness as soon as you see it…sometimes it takes a while to determine the actual cause of the problem. The good news is that your YPOOL operator / CPO (certified pool operator) has more than adequate knowledge and skill to address the issue. If you do not have a qualified pool operator, either on staff or under contract, you should get one immediately.

What we will discuss is what to do if the pool becomes so cloudy you cannot clearly see the bottom. It’s really very simple…close the pool! To get the right perspective it is important to understand what pool turbidity is not. It’s not a minor issue. It’s neither a topic for discussion or debate nor a decision that needs a supervisor, executive director, or committee. It’s not about inconvenience or cost. It’s not about patron acceptance or public relations. What it is about is safety. It’s about not placing your guards in the position of having to drag a lifeless child from the bottom of murky pool. It’s about not having to explain to grieving parents how their precious child drowned on your watch. It’s about living with yourself and being able to sleep at night. It’s about integrity and honestly doing what is necessary to keep children safe.

Lifeguards are hired and charged with the responsibility of keeping those who use the pool safe. Since they are the experts in your pool area, treat them as such. Empower your guards to close the pool for the safety of pool users if they feel they cannot safely perform their job because of water turbidity. Make certain they know that management will fully support their decision.

Bottom line…three basic rules.

  1. Work hard at keeping the water in your pool clear.
  2. Vigorously address any cloudiness as soon as it is noticed.
  3. Immediately close the pool if the bottom is not easily visible.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about camp risk management issues.

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