Controlling the Tipping Point to Maintain Health Recreational Bodies of Water
You don’t have to be a hydrologist to know that water has both a light and a dark side. On one hand, we know all about the existential importance of water as a natural resource, we simply cannot live without it. And, we know that water provides a spectrum of recreational activities and aesthetic appeal that can’t be found anywhere else. Aquatic activity is arguably both the healthiest and most enjoyable of all forms of leisure and recreation.
For all of that profound virtue, water can also be incredibly dangerous. For starters, humans are not designed for the life aquatic. We are land animals who have adapted to water, love the water, but are also exceedingly vulnerable when we step off of dry land. Also, excessive rainfall causes floods that can wreak incalculable property damage, injury and death, just as tsunamis can lay waste to entire regions. Water erodes foundations when it’s not drained properly and can cause incalculable damage when it freezes.
Most relevant to those of us devoted to maintaining healthy recreational bodies of water are the many less dramatic ways that water can cause harm. From waterborne pathogens to disinfection byproducts to a spectrum of potentially harmful contaminants, improperly maintained water can make us deathly ill, or worse.
I find it fascinating that the good and bad of water come together in the most intimate of ways in commercial or otherwise public aquatic settings. Think about it, when the water is well maintained (that is, properly sanitized, oxidized, balanced and filtered), aquatic facilities become havens of fun, relaxation, therapy and exercise. Well-maintained aquatic facilities are among the most dynamic and beneficial properties found anywhere in society.
However, if you take that same well-maintained vessel and replace the healthy water with a solution loaded with pathogens, organic compounds and dissolved solids, all of a sudden the entire scene changes. Where health and fun should rule the day, instead we find discomfort, illness, dysfunction and even death.
People responsible for recreational and therapeutic bodies of water decide which set of experiences their customers, clients and constituents will have. We are very much the people who control this profound tipping point between water that is life giving and fluid that is life threatening. It’s a heady responsibility, to be sure, but it’s also a choice those of us in this profession make with every water treatment and manage decision.
For builders, driving the tipping point means selecting treatment systems that will handle the bather load, along with filtration, hydraulic and control systems that support healthy function. For service technicians, it means establishing effective maintenance and cleaning regimens and troubleshooting problems as they arise. For property owners and managers, it means having the wherewithal and foresight to make the right decisions for your customers and staff.
To my mind, straddling that tipping point is what makes our chosen profession so exciting and also so massively important. Ultimately, we decide which way the aquatic experience goes and when you look at that way, the choice should be obvious.