Given Australia’s searing weather conditions, especially in the summer months, there’s no better relief than jumping into a swimming pool and letting the cool water freshen up your body. In your mind’s eye, the pool waters may be crystal-clear and smelling pleasantly of chlorine. Also there in your imagination may be swimmers, old and young, healthy and full of vigour, ready to while away another pleasantly balmy afternoon.
But this idyllic image could easily turn sour. In as little as 48 hours, the water in an ill-maintained swimming pool can discolour and turn an unsavoury shade of green. Then, there’s the trouble of dealing with faecal matter, urine, and other residues that can literally spread diseases. Put all these threats together and you may be tempted to see your backyard or community pool not as a source of entertainment, but as a cesspool of pollution.
Then again, keeping your pool in swimmable condition need not be a nightmare. With a little knowledge and some diligence, it’ll be easy for you to protect your loved ones from recreational water illnesses all year round. To help you identify the possible dangers lurking in your pool, we’ll be discussing four of the most common types of pool contaminants, what causes them, and what you can do to keep your swimming pool free of them.
Algae are aquatic organisms that can be introduced to your pool by wind, rain, or debris. Though it is not dangerous to humans per se, the presence of a lot of algae through an “algae bloom” could become a breeding ground for other types of organisms Algal blooms can happen if the temperature is unusually warm, if the pool’s waters are out of balance, or if in general, there’s a lack of water circulation and filtration in the pool area. The mass swarming of algae will turn the pool waters green and murky.
Addressing Algae Bloom: If the water has indeed begun to look unsightly and has started giving off an unpleasant odour, this may be a job for your local pool cleaning service. They will know how to test the water and how to treat it with chlorine or with special algaecides. You can also ask fellow pool owners for recommendations, or you can search online for a pool cleaner who can rid your pool of its algae problem.
- Dirt, Leaves, and Other Natural Debris
Some days, you don’t have to worry about the weather messing up your pool’s appearance; other days, extreme weather conditions may bring dried leaves, old branches, rocks, silt, sand, soil, or other natural debris into the pool. At best, these may only clutter your pool, but at worst, they could be contaminated with organisms like E. coli.
Tips on Pool Maintenance regardless of Season: It’s recommended that you clean your pool twice a week with a net, and scrub the tiles with a pool-compatible brush whenever there’s a build-up of grime. You may also want to consider investing in your own pool cover so that your pool can have its own protective canopy.
As much as you may dislike thinking about it, swimmers pee in pools all the time. In fact, that chlorine smell that most of us associate with a clean pool often carries traces of urine. It is also a myth that chlorine can immediately kill unwanted organisms, like those from human pee and sweat, when it’s poured into the pool. Though most pool filtration systems act as competent screens against such organisms, at some point, you will want to stop swimming in a potentially pee-filled pool.
Dealing with Pee in the Pool: In this regard, the best solution is a preventive one—telling all swimmers not to pee in the pool. If it is a visitor’s first time to swim in your pool, point them towards the closest toilet where they can take a break and relieve themselves.
- Faecal Matter
Again, this may be difficult for you to wrap your head around, but faecal matter can easily make its way into your pool. This can be in the form of animal droppings, such as that of birds and frogs, or it can be passed into the water by accident by a baby or a young child. Research indicates that you shouldn’t discredit adults either: according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average person has a trace of 0.14 grams of faecal matter on them. Of course, even the smallest trace could cause E. coli or Cryptosporidium to fester and threaten a swimmer with gastrointestinal illness.
Keeping Your Pool Waters Clean and Faecal Matter-Free: In extreme situations, such as when you see solid faecal waste actually floating in the pool, put on a pair of disposable gloves and remove it. Wash and disinfect your hands quickly after. It is also advisable to filter your pool for 24 hours and to fully hose it down.
Additional Tips for Cleanliness, Hygiene, and Sanitation around the Pool
As the pool’s owner, you are responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. But that doesn’t mean that your guests can’t do their part. Before everyone takes a dive into your pool, make sure they are aware of the following house rules:
- Everyone should shower before and after entering the pool. This is so that germs, debris, and any traces of human waste can be washed clean from their bodies and not make contact with the pool water.
- Everyone should observe bathroom breaks. This is so that no one gets tempted to pee in the pool.
- Very young children can wear water diapers. In the case that a baby or a toddler may need to relieve themselves while in the water, a special diaper will prevent the waste from spreading.
- Swimmers suffering from diarrhoea should be discouraged from using the pool. It is better for them to wait out the runs than risk uncontrolled bowel movements in the pool.
If you have checked off on all the issues listed above, then it will be easier than ever to maintain your private or community pool. Here’s to swimming in the cleanest and healthiest conditions possible!
To read more on topics like this, check out the house category.