UV Water Treatment for Swimming Pools

mage Credit: pds209

Image Caption: Vintage Outdoor Swimming Pool

Many private and public pool owners have decided to use chlorine alternatives for their swimming pools. Among these alternatives, two of the top solutions are saltwater pools and UV (ultraviolet) systems.

Saltwater Pools

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The former’s label may be slightly misleading, as the water in the pool is not seawater, and is only about 8 or 9 percent as salty as seawater is. Essentially, saline and electricity at the water source react with one another, producing pure concentrations of chlorine that then spread throughout the pool.

This tends to do away with most of the common irritations from chlorine, like what it does to your hair, skin, and eyes, not to mention the smell it leaves. Pictured below, a saltwater pool at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina is one of a growing number of saltwater pools in the U.S.

UV Sterilizers

UV sterilizers are perhaps the most beneficial of all the new alternatives available. This being the case, an increasing amount of top-notch swim programs and aquatic centers have recently made the switch to UV systems.

Swim Teams Go with UV Water Treatment

Image Credit: GoGreenPools at YouTube

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The screenshot below from the GoGreenPools video, a swim coach explains why he’d recommend UV water treatment for swimming pools, especially for swimmers who are having the typical problems like eye irritation or coughing at the back of the throat, due to the chlorine.

"It was a totally different environment … before, a lot of the kids could not make it through the practice … Any team that would be having that problems, I would tell them, my experience as a coach is: you’ve got to install the system … it’s the only thing that helped … we haven’t had any more of those problems with the kids in the pool.”

Image Credit: GoGreenPools at YouTube

Image Caption: Spectra Light UV water treatment system.

UV: The New Gold Standard for Swimming Pools?

Here are the key reasons why many think UV pool sterilizers are the best option:

  • UV systems kill all algae when it goes through the disinfection chamber.

  • A very low chlorine residual (0.5 parts per million) is maintained in the pool, which kills any algae that did not go through the chamber.

  • UV has an amazing effect on pool water. Because UV also eliminates organic matter, an extremely low concentration of chlorine has the sanitizing thrust that an exponentially larger amount would have.

  • According to Spectra Light, both University of Texas and Yale have UV pool sterilizers.

Image Credit: Athena L at YouTube

Image Caption: Yale Women’s Swim team

A good way to think about UV swimming pool treatment is to compare it to UV water disinfection. At the 254-nm wavelength range of light, UV effectively kills algae, molds, bacteria, viruses, protozoans, fecal coliform, microbes, and other waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, hepatitis, and E-coli.

The only drawback to UV systems is their initial cost (residential ozone generators can cost up to$8,000). However, they can actually save you time and money over the long term. Traditional chlorine ranges at about $700 per year, and "shock treatments” range from $150 and above, not to mention the increased maintenance required. Moreover, traditional chlorine treatment is far more abrasive, to both swimmers and the environment, and cannot do many of the beneficial things UV sterilizers can do. Accordingly, UV systems sales are up and rising.