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Sat 10 May 2008 04:00 AM

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Clean and clear

Compass general manager Sivan Iswaran explains the key considerations in choosing a swimming pool disinfectant.

Compass general manager Sivan Iswaran explains the key considerations in choosing a swimming pool disinfectant.

How should pool operators select an appropriate disinfectant?

Commercial pool systems are very well controlled in Dubai.

Several factors need to be considered when selecting an appropriate pool water disinfectant. These include: the local climate and pool water temperature; health and safety; size and operations of the pool; bather load; the ability of the disinfectant to remain in water as residual after application; and its compatibility with the source water.

Chlorination is the most widely used pool water disinfection method. It can be easily applied and is relatively cheap. It is available in various forms - gas, liquid and powder - but each of these can be difficult to handle and potentially hazardous.

What alternative does Compass offer to traditional chlorine disinfectants?

Electrochlorination is a chlorine technology, which generates chlorine as needed in the form of a low-concentration sodium hypochlorite solution from ordinary table salt.

This is the process behind Aquaclear, which is basically a salt water chlorination system. The sodium hypochlorite is made by combining salt, electricity and water, and then once the chlorine is consumed from the solution, it is returned back to salt ready to start the process again.

The on-site, on-demand generation means there is no need for the handling or bulk storage of hazardous chemicals.

How common are salt water pools?

The Middle East offers the best climate for these systems. It is so humid that the chlorine demand is higher, which means the systems pay for themselves quickly.

However, Those Pool Guys maintains around 1000 commercial and domestic pools in Dubai and of these, no more than 50 are salt water pools. This compares to 90% of pools in Australia using salt water systems.

What is your view of pools in Dubai?

Commercial pool systems are generally very well controlled in Dubai. The Municipality has a very good, clear set of standards that it polices. Commercial pool operators have to record certain pool water measurements on a Municipality website.

If one thing could be improved it would be to move away from the reliance of chlorine being the only indicator of the disinfection potential of the water to something which is called ORP - oxidation reduction potential.

This measures the oxidising/reducing condition of the water.

The other issue in the Middle East is the expectation of systems. In Australia people would be fine swimming in a heated pool at 26˚C.

Here we sometimes find it's 29˚C-32˚C, while in summer some people want pools cooled from 38˚C down to 28˚C, even though 30˚C-32C˚ would be comfortable. This results in more expensive and energy hungry heating and cooling systems.

What are the common mistakes pool operators make?

People often make the mistake of not using an automatic dosing system. Or, with the salt water electrochlorination systems, they under-size the chlorine generator.

You need to check that the system is going to provide the right amount of chlorine for the 8-10 hours a day that your filtration system is going to be running.

Also, a lot of people in the Middle East use electric heaters - these are very inefficient. Instead, a heat pump, such as those from Calorex, uses energy in the air to convert that energy to either heat or cool the pool.

Finally, the main trap operators need to avoid is relying on pool cleaners to test their pools. Instead, hotel operators need to have a test kit that covers the full range of tests the Municipality requires and use them at least three to four times a day.

With automated systems today you can often capture the data to review what went wrong as the need arises. If there is an error in instrumentation or someone forgets to take a sample, then that's valuable data lost with manual systems.

What can pool operators do to be environmentally friendly?

Not everyone is going to move down the salt water path. There are definitely more environmental benefits from using a salt water pool, but installing heat pumps, solar pool heating and pool covers can also help.

I think there is a shift in culture in Dubai towards being more environmentally aware. We maintain a lot of pools for Nakheel on The Palm, Jumeirah, and the company is talking to us about looking at a better system for its swimming pools.

In Oman, the first stage of The Wave, Muscat is using salt water chlorinators in its pools and these high profile projects are great for raising awareness.

About CompassA division of Wafi Industrial, Compass was founded in Dubai in 1996.

The company now employs around 70 members of staff and has five divisions: Aquaclear; Those Pool Guys; Process Systems Gulf; Compass MEP Works; and Compass Trading.

At the Middle East Pool and Spa Exhibition in Dubai last month, Compass displayed its range of commercial and residential salt water chlorination systems.

Clients include Jumeirah Group, Grand Hyatt Dubai, and Coral Beach Resort.

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