A Top Shelf Seminar at The Pool & Spa Show
It’s no secret that at times I’ve been critical of the state of education in the aquatics/pool/spa industry. It’s not my nature to complain; yet throughout my long tenure in the industry, I’ve consistently found it difficult to find adequate informational resources—a shortcoming that has become a common refrain among many in our profession.
That’s why when I do find a great source of information, it’s refreshing to point it out and give credit where due. Case in point, back in mid-January, I had the pleasure of attending a tremendous advanced water chemistry seminar presented by chemist Ellen Meyer of chemistry manufacturing giant, Lonza. The session was part of an otherwise impressive educational docket at this year’s Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show.
Meyer is a terrific instructor and easily one of the most knowledgeable experts I’ve ever encountered in pool and spa chemistry. What set her presentation apart from others I’ve attended was the way that she connected all the dots and did so based on hard data, years of scientific inquiry, and experience in the field. To my mind, whenever you’re delving into water chemistry, it’s always about the science. Everything has an action and reaction; everything holds hands in one way or another. If you look at the science through the right perspective, you can find strengths and weaknesses in the patterns, which is the basis for advancement and ultimately an improved bather experience.
That’s what Meyer did so artfully, she not only comprehensively covered the major elements of recreational water chemistry but also made sure her audience came away with an understanding of how all those pieces fit together. For anyone who’s taken on the challenge of managing water in a high-use aquatic facility, it becomes immediately obvious that the factors you’re manipulating do not function in isolation but are always interdependent. She did a spectacular job of illustrating those relationships.
Among the many topical highlights, she discussed bather load (capacity) issues, water-related disease outbreaks, and how the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code is designed to stymie waterborne diseases. She talked about bacteria, including Pseudomonas, E. coli, and Legionella, the Norovirus, and the many other organisms that make people sick. She covered how those come about and what we need to do to prevent outbreaks, including detailed information about contact times and different types of sanitizers such as UV, ozone, and the different types of chlorine. Part of the presentation was also dedicated to algae and prevention, as well as information about cyanuric acid.
For a three-and-a-half hour presentation, Meyer was about as comprehensive as possible. She did a great job of backing up her points with hard science while also speaking about the limitations of testing in labs versus real-world field experience. She implored us to work with chemical manufacturers so they can base product development and recommended applications with both lab science and what happens in bodies of water filled with people and influenced by the countless variables.
Ultimately, the information she presented fused science with the objectives of the Model Aquatic Health Code as well as the Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments, volume 2, published by the World Health Organization in 2006. All in all, Meyer’s seminar was a prime example of the level of information our industry desperately needs.