Poop in the Pool

Since I opened the topic of poop in the last posting, I may as well push on and get it all out.  Flush out the topic, so to speak, especially as summer approaches.

Remember the scene in Caddyshack where Bill Murray causes a panic by throwing a Baby Ruth candy bar in the country club pool?  For about ten years I taught a course that certified commercial pool operators for the State of Delaware.  I developed the course myself and wrote the manual.  One of the topics that held everyone’s attention was poop in the pool and what to do about it.  At the end of the class, I even served them a fake cocktail of a miniature Tootsie Roll floating in cream soda under a tiny umbrella.

Poop is only an aesthetic problem.  A properly chlorinated pool will quickly kill the harmful bacteria.  Delaware regulations say that when poop is found the operator must scoop up any pieces, floaters or sinkers, and close the pool for one turnover, which is the time for the entire pool volume to pass through the filter.  If the pool contains a hundred thousand gallons, it has to remain closed until a hundred thousand gallons goes through the filter, typically in four hours.  This is to clear up what often is left as a brown cloud in the water.

But, I would explain to the class, this does not really eliminate the poop.  It just traps it on the filter, where it is out of sight and out of mind.  The poop is still in the water until the filter is backwashed, which could be several weeks away.  Besides, after the required one turnover, about 35% of the water has not gone through the filter at all, while some has gone through several times.

The regulations cover only part of the problem because poop in the pool is a constant situation, not a a periodic one.  Almost all people entering a pool have dirty butts, but when they come out, they are clean as a whistle.  Where does the dirt go?  In the pool, of course.

It has been estimated (not by me) each person adds one-tenth of a cubic centimeter of fecal material to a pool.  This means just ten people have added one full cubic centimeter, which is about a half-inch block.  When a hundred people have used the pool, ten of those half-inch blocks amount to a fair-sized turd.  Keep in mind that pool water is never drained and replaced except when needed for repainting and repair of the pool structure, which could have been several years ago.

And this is just about poop.  Don’t get me started on urine and all of the other bodily discharges.  Something for you to think about while lounging poolside in the summer sun watching your grandchildren spitting water at each other.

(The good news is that the chlorine not only disinfects, it also totally oxidizes the bodily contaminants to carbon dioxide and various nitrogen oxides that disperse into the air.  Eventually.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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