Safer new pool-cleaning process feels good too
By Brian Cross
Swimmers have been noticing some subtle changes when they step out of the two recently upgraded pools on campus.
Their skin feels smoother. Their hair feels softer. And complaints about red, irritated eyes are almost non-existent thanks to a new chlorination system that uses salt instead of liquid chlorine to treat the water.
“Getting rid of liquid chlorine was a very good thing in terms of public safety and swimmer comfort,” said College of Kinesiology Facilities Manager Roger Moskaluke.
“The problem with chlorine is that it can dry your skin so bad and cause rashes and that sort of thing, but since we’ve moved to the new system, all that’s been eliminated.”
According to Moskaluke, the new chlorination systems installed at the Education and Kinesiology pools uses a relatively safe and simple process to chlorinate the water.
Instead of adding liquid chlorine directly to the pool water, maintenance staff now add salt – and the new system does the rest.
The University began studying the new system when health and safety officials from the province and the city raised concerns about the liquid chlorine systems that had been in place since the pools were constructed.
Safety guidelines stipulate that swimming pools using liquid chlorine must have direct outside access in the event of an accident or spill.
Reconfiguring the buildings to meet this regulation would have cost more than $100,000 and disrupted pool users.
The cost of the new system, manufactured by a U.S. company called Lectranator, was approximately $60,000.
Additional plumbing upgrades were also required to accommodate the new system, but the total cost of installing the new equipment was still cheaper than renovating.
The new technology requires that water have a salt content of about 3,000 parts per million. The system pumps the salt water through a series of cells and uses an electrical impulse to separate the sodium and chlorine, the two constituent elements in salt.
Built-in computers monitor the water’s chlorine and pH levels, indicating when more salt is needed.
Moskaluke said a five-kilogram bag of salt must be added every six months or so.
The new systems, which were first developed in Europe, are quickly gaining popularity across North America because of their simplicity and effectiveness.
About half a dozen swimming pools in Saskatchewan have converted to a similar system over the past few years.
“I guess the nice thing about getting rid of liquid chlorine is that chlorine is very dangerous to work with,” Moskaluke said.
“And the pH level (with the new system) is a lot more stable. It’s pretty much bang on with the pH level in your body.”
Audrey Atchison, who teaches Aquasize and Swim-Fit classes at the pools, said the improvements in swimmer comfort have been obvious since the systems were installed.
The water tastes a bit saltier but it is also more buoyant and has a silkier texture. Swimsuits are also lasting longer now that the corrosive effects of liquid chlorine have been eliminated.
Her swimmers say itching, dryness and other skin and eye irritations are almost non-existent. Complaints about sneezing and respiratory problems are also down, she said.
“It’s just wonderful as far as I’m concerned,” said Atchison.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first but I’m completely sold on it now.”
“I think there’s a bit more buoyancy, but mostly it’s the way it makes your skin feel. Just about all the people in my classes are finding it much better. It feels very nice and silky on your skin.”
Brian Cross is a Saskatoon freelance writer.