Letter to the Editor RE: 'Adding pool chemicals — carefully'

By Alice Richard
Wednesday, 07 December, 2016

Letter to the Editor RE: 'Adding pool chemicals — carefully'

We’ve received feedback from several of our readers about an article in our November/December issue, ‘Adding pool chemicals — carefully’. While this was published as an opinion piece based on the author’s 36 years of experience in the industry, it does contain some unorthodox approaches.

As with all content, we suggest that readers make their own enquiries and ensure that they adhere to the relevant regulations in their region.

We relish the opportunity to engage with our readers and welcome all feedback, positive or negative, so please get in touch if you have something to say — healthy debate is good for the industry!

Kind regards,

Alice Richard




Letter to the Editor RE: ‘Adding pool chemicals — carefully’

I recently read an article in the Nov/Dec issue of Pool+Spa (“Adding pool chemicals — carefully” by John McKenny), which I have to say left me greatly concerned — concerned that readers may take Mr McKenny’s opinion as fact. My concern in particular was with his opinion on alkalinity — and I say opinion as that is what it is (and Mr McKenny states this himself); there is no scientific evidence nor legislation (Australian Standard, Public Health Act or the like) that supports this.

I am alarmed that Mr McKenny is advocating that “in (his) opinion alkalinity levels in pool water are unimportant”, and that “sodium bicarbonate….will soon no longer be needed”, which completely contravenes the current Department of Health water balance requirements for all public pools and the Australian Standard AS3633.

I think in future it would be advisable for Pool+Spa to clearly mark articles such as this as ‘Opinion Piece’, so that it is clearly evident to the reader that the article is just that — an opinion. Given Mr McKenny’s position in the industry (teaching swim centre operations and management for over 25 years and writing two books), it would be easy for industry members to mistake his opinion for fact.

In rebuttal of this opinion piece, I would like to give my understanding on the importance of alkalinity in water chemistry.

After 18 years of actively working in the pool industry — working closely with water chemistry on hundreds of pools (residential, semi-commercial and commercial pools) on a regular basis; having undertaken numerous water chemistry education sessions, supplier training programs and industry training courses; working closely with our local council Department of Health and numerous highly regarded commercial pool gurus — all training and evidence I have come across completely disagrees with the position taken on alkalinity in this article.

I have consulted with Spiros Dassakis (CEO — SPASA NSW/ACT) and with the head of our local council Department of Health (who is an active member on a ‘working committee’ for the NSW Department of Health with regard to public pools) and neither are aware of any intention for the NSW Department of Health to remove alkalinity testing from the guidelines — and in fact they highlighted that there was an error in the required frequency of testing of alkalinity and that this actually needs to be increased.

Alkalinity is an essential part of pool water chemistry, to ensure ‘balanced water’. It is required for bather comfort and for the protection of fixtures and fittings of the pool. As an industry standard the analysing of water test results are all based around two fundamental water balance scales/indexes: the Taylor Watergram and the Langelier Index; alkalinity is a required element in each of these. The NSW Dept of Health (under the Public Health Act 2010, the Public Health Regulation 2012 and the Public Swimming Pool and Spa Pool Advisory Document — please refer to your state legislation for further information) require alkalinity to be maintained between 80–200.

All pool surfaces require the pool water to be maintained within a prescribed alkalinity range (amongst others) to uphold their warranty. I have seen firsthand the damage a long-standing extremely corrosive (0 alkalinity level) water balance has done to a near-new fibreglass pool and its equipment (etched the surface of the fibreglass and eroded the hydrostatic valve, cell and pump mechanical seal).

The alkalinity of source water will vary greatly from area to area — ours is as little as 10 ppm. Consideration also needs to be made as to whether an acid (pH) feeder is in use and the effect that will have on the ever decreasing alkalinity level of the pool. So to say such a broad statement as that “alkalinity is unimportant” or that “sodium bicarbonate will no longer be needed” I feel is very irresponsible.

I strongly encourage my fellow industry members, especially those who work with water balance and water chemistry on a daily basis, to be aware of their state’s legislation, and actively undertake training and education on maintaining and monitoring water chemistry. This is the information you should be basing your knowledge on. Make yourself a great source of knowledge for your customers (and your colleagues) — remember you are dealing with their health and safety.

It’s vital for the strength of our industry that we, as the public face of the pool industry, are properly educated, knowledgeable, professional and qualified in our trade.


Lee Salisbury

Sapphire Wetwork Pool & Spa

Letter to the Editor RE: ‘Adding pool chemicals — carefully’

I just wanted to voice my concerns about a recent article in the Nov/Dec edition of your magazine, ‘Adding pool chemicals — carefully’.

As an industry magazine I believe you should be very careful about what you print as some readers may take it as ‘gospel’ when in fact it is against all regulations and standards. This article has many examples of personal opinion or incorrect information from someone who is claiming to be an expert in this field.

As an example, John gives his opinion that sodium bicarbonate is unimportant and not required. There is no information to back this up and this is contrary to all regulations and guidelines in all states of Australia.

He also goes on to direct readers to add chemicals directly into the pool and not dissolve product first. Again, this is against every regulation and guideline in Australia and definitely the opposite advice every chemical company will give.

I suggest that in the future if you are printing any advice or expert reviews, please have these confirmed by industry groups to confirm their accuracy and integrity.

Kind regards,

Steven Humphris

Managing Director

Focus Products

Do you have some feedback on this article, or any of our content? Get in touch! Email ps@wfmedia.com.au.

Image credit: ©freeimages.com/Marcel Hol

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