It’s pretty unusual for swimming pools to be so thoroughly in the news. They were in the headlines over covid of course, which finished off about 200 pools. Then last autumn there were warnings from Swim England that up to 2,000 more might close in the next ten years, starved of the funds necessary for refurbishment. Now, the talk is of pools having to close for lack of disinfectant, and even of their not being able to afford the energy running costs. What’s going on, and what if anything can we do about it? A numbers of factors are affecting disinfectant shortages.
• China cut back on manufacture, particularly in the run up to the winter Olympics, because they have been tightening up on environmental pollution and closing down non-compliant factories.
• There is a problem shipping chemicals from China to the UK.
• There is a shortage of chlorine in the US because their major chlorine manufacturing plant burnt down and will not be back in operation until later this year.
• As a result of Brexit the Biocidal Product Regulations have transferred from the EU to the UK and it has become unaffordable for manufacturers to have their products assessed.
• The main UK manufacture of sodium hypochlorite in the UK has shut down its plant for May and part of June.
By the time you read this, normal service may have been restored, in which case, Phew! If not, well there’s a limit to what pools can do. So far, chlorinated isocyanurates and bromine disinfectants don’t seem to be in short supply – though their prices have risen – but only a few pools could switch, and of course this should be done with extreme care. Chlorine gas? Well the Sportspark pool in Norwich ran out of that and had to close.
Fitness industry estimates suggest that this year’s combined gas and electricity costs for larger facilities with pools will be 150% more than they were in 2019. This is a big, complicated issue, but operators might find some pointers in PWTAG ‘s recent guidance note, Net Zero Carbon Pools (find it under Technical notes on pwtag.org). There is valuable information there on the savings that can be made with the careful use of variable speed drives. Pool operators tempted to save money on heating the water should not resist the temptation. PWTAG’s recommended temperature minimums are 26 deg for fitness swimming, 27 degrees for recreational swimming, 28 degrees for leisure swimming, 29 degrees for teaching and for young children keep the temperature up to 30 degrees.