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Is Your Pool Green?
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Minnesota Community Living March/April 2010

Is Your Pool Green?

By Cheryl Svenningsen, CMCA, AMS- Gittleman Management

As more people become in tune with the environment, they are looking for alternatives in pool and spa maintenance that are healthier for people and the planet. Advances in technology and materials continue to evolve, giving associations more choices on maintaining their pool or spa with less chorine, reduction or elimination of other chemicals and less time spent on upkeep. This is a highlight of those with the most promise of making your pool green while creating a better, healthier swimming experience.

Sphagnum Moss
Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so it should come as no surprise that a Plymouth-based company, Creative Water Solutions, has developed a patented treatment system to keep pools and spas clearer using sphagnum moss. Moss bogs in the northern part of the state have been credited for playing a part in the clean, crystal clear waters. In the past, sphagnum moss has been used to treat wounded soldiers prior to the development of antibiotics and Native Americans used it as diaper material.

Using a moss-based filtration system has many benefits:

  • It significantly reduces the amount of harsh chemical usage such as chlorine-sometimes as much as 90%.
  • It eliminates the need for cyanuric acid used to stabilize chlorine in outdoor pools.
  • It inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungus, mold & yeast.
  • It creates more natural water conditions and clearer water.
  • Lessens the impact of color changes and damage to swimwear and hair.
  • Eliminates the "chlorine” smell and irritation to the skin.
  • Moss is a renewable resource and it can be composted when you’re done with it.
  • Less chemicals end up in sewage system and water treatment plants.
  • Reduction of corrosion in pipes, pumps, heaters and other equipment.

The City of St. Paul, MN piloted the first large-scale commercial test of the moss filtration system at a public aquatic complex in the summer of 2009. In monitoring the results, the city found that they used two-thirds less chlorine, didn’t have to clean the pool as much and the water quality was wonderful. When treating the indoor pool, there was an improvement in air quality as well, eliminating the "pool” smell out of the whole building within a couple of days.

The cost for these moss water treatment systems depends on the number of gallons being treated but run under $100 for a spa to several hundred dollars for a pool. For more information, visit Creative Water Solutions at www.cwsnaturally.com.

Salt Water
Salt-water pools are quickly becoming more popular than traditional pools, especially in the southern United States. A salt-water pool is simply a pool that uses salt in a chlorine generator to produce chlorine rather than buying it. The amount of salt in this type of pool is 10 times less than that of the ocean and is around the salt level in the human body.

The benefits of a salt-water pool include:

  • Provides a more consistent supply of chlorine naturally.
  • The water in a mild saline solution feels smooth, similar to showering in extremely soft water.
  • Since the generator produces it, you don’t have to buy, store or handle chlorine.
  • People report smoother skin and feel more refreshed.
  • Costs less time & money in maintenance.
  • Eliminates burning red eyes.
  • Lessens the need for other harsh chemicals.
  • Less chemicals end up in sewage system and water treatment plants.

Some disadvantages include the need to monitor the PH levels closely, having to add salt to the chlorine generator and having to clean off salt staining around the pool area.

The initial upfront cost for installation can be at least $1,000 and up to several thousand dollars for a good quality chlorine generator, but you will save time and money on the upkeep.

The Bottom Line
While you may have to do your homework to see which of these, or other options, would be best for your association, you can save time, money and be more earth friendly when maintaining your pool and/or spa.

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