Let there be light
The University of Houston (UH) in Texas boasts a nationally successful women’s swimming and diving team and includes two Olympic diving medallists among its alumni. UH’s aquatic centre stages the annual Western Athletic Conference Championships and has been a training base for the US and Montenegro Olympic water polo teams and the US Paralympic team.
When providing facilities for athletes at an elite level, it is essential to maintain excellent water and air quality, including the elimination of microorganisms. It is also important to provide spa users with a pleasant, relaxing and safe environment that encourages greater use.
UH opted to use ultraviolet (UV) disinfection systems from Aquionics to improve water purity and air quality standards. Since installation, athletes and regular users of the facilities have enjoyed health and hygiene benefits including improved air quality and fresher-smelling, clearer and more hygienic water.
The centre uses chlorine as the primary sanitiser for water treatment. As part of a major modernisation, UH installed the Aquionics UV Swim ultraviolet water treatment system. Designed specifically for pools, spas and other aquatic applications, the system uses lamps that emit UV radiation to efficiently and effectively eliminate bacteria, viruses, spores and moulds. It is a cost-effective, low-maintenance and environmentally responsible treatment method that produces clearer water, cuts the use of chemicals and creates no hazardous by-products.
To cater for the different flow rates of the pools, Aquionics provided UV Swim disinfection systems in a range of sizes. Most use a single medium-pressure lamp to provide UV light at 200 to 400 nm wavelengths. This breaks down and destroys chloramines that can cause eye and skin irritation, headaches, respiratory complaints, allergic reactions and unpleasant odours.
The installed systems are reducing combined chlorine levels in the water, typically to less than 0.4 ppm, and the presence of Cryptosporidium in the water by 99.99%. Optimising water purity in this way leads to improved air quality, further enhancing the overall swimming experience.
“It is essential that our pools comply with water quality regulations and that the people who use our facilities feel as comfortable as possible in the water,” said Rachel O’Mara, Associate Director of Operations at UH’s Department of Campus Recreation.
“The Aquionics UV systems have played a fundamental role in helping us improve our natatorium environment, making it as pleasant as possible for users. We are delighted with the performance and reliability of the UV systems, and we have had so many pool users and spectators telling us what a positive impact the water and air quality improvements have made,” O’Mara said.
Using a single medium-pressure lamp reduces operating and maintenance costs compared to a multi-lamp low-pressure system. The systems operating at the university incorporate a wiping mechanism that automatically cleans the quartz sleeves around the UV lamps, helping to maintain performance and reduce maintenance requirements and costs. The systems provide unique safety features to ensure maximum operator protection when changing a lamp, while a sensor within each system ensures that it switches off at high temperatures, further increasing safety.
“The UV systems require minimal maintenance compared to alternative solutions, which enables us to make significant annual savings,” O’Mara said.
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