I was walking through the natatorium (a fancy Latin word for “pool building”) several weeks ago when a rather important sensation struck me, or should I say it was the lack thereof that caught my attention.

What was it, you ask? I was keenly aware that there was no detectable smell of chlorine in the facility. That struck me as odd, since I have been walking through the pool to the administrative office along the same path for almost 10 years now, and every day was a little different, some days more chlorine smell, some days less. But that day, however, there was no smell at all.

I had to ask our operations staff, being the inquisitive person that I am, only to learn that some weeks beforehand, we had installed a brilliant new piece of equipment. I say brilliant not only because it is a wonderfully engineered unit, but also because it is some of the shiniest stainless steel I have ever gazed upon! Somehow I was the last person in the district to find out that we had installed our very own UV (ultra violet) water treatment system.

I was interested to learn that the chlorine smell in the pool area is not chlorine at all, but chloramines — specifically the chloramine byproducts ammonia and nitrogen. Beside their unpleasant smell, chloramines are also a main culprit in swimmers’ red-eye syndrome. Traditionally, a pool operator would have to super-chlorinate the water to reduce chloramines, but as I found out, the addition of the low-pressure UV system resulted in a reduction of the amount of chlorine added to the pool on a daily basis to maintain a sanitary system. Less chlorine equals fewer chloramines equals brilliant!

As the district moves into its annual maintenance shutdown time, which goes until Sept. 16, many patrons wonder just what is happening behind those locked doors. Well, just like the installation of the UV system, the pool is getting many small repairs and a couple of big ones, too.

This year, the warm water pool is getting a slight facelift. The plaster on the inside, due to the temperature and chemicals in the water, has become lightly discolored in places. A very new technique has become available that will allow us to slightly soften the “cream” (the top layer of plaster) and use a special diamond-coated pad to polish off a very thin layer, restoring its original color and luster.

In addition, pool maintenance staff members are draining the main lap pool, repairing lane lines and regrouting some of the tiles where material has been worn away. The lap pool also will get a light buffing of the “cream” to really make it shine. Our maintenance team will be working diligently power washing, scrubbing every nook and cranny, replacing worn equipment with new and so forth.

It’s always exciting to see the flurry of activity that takes place during the annual shutdown. Most people see a dark lobby and a “Closed for Annual Maintenance” sign on the door, thinking the entire building must be just as dark and quiet. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Just know that our maintenance crew is trying its hardest to keep our facility in the best possible shape for all of our patrons.

Sunset Pool will reopen at 5:45 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16 with sparkling clear water, a creamy white pool bottom and no chloramines!


Darren Gooch is the IT & Marketing Manager for the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District. District information is always available at sunsetempire.com or by calling (503) 738-3311. If you have questions for Darren or would like to suggest future topics, feel free to drop him an email at dgooch@sunsetempire.com.

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