Light touch cleans pool water

Those who have gone to the Carson Valley Swim Center and have been turned off by the smell of chlorine now have a reason to return: the installment of a new ultraviolet light sanitation system that diminishes the chlorine odor.

"It breaks down chlorine compounds that develop in the water and give public indoor pools a bad reputation in regards to air and water quality," said Kirk Chiapella, who has been director of the center since 1988.

Chiapella said the Carson Valley Swim Center is the first public pool in Nevada to use the ultraviolet system.

He said he heard of the technology three years ago while attending an aquatics conference in Austin, Texas.

"We thought of other solutions to make water less irritating, but this was the first one that was cost effective and could be retrofitted," said Chiapella.

The center spent $60,000 on three ultraviolet lights, one for each indoor pool except the slide pool which is used less.

Although still treated with chlorine, the pool water now passes through the lights which emit ultraviolet radiation to further disinfect the water and break up the chloramines and chlorinated organic compounds that cause the odor associated with swimming pools.

"It's a quality issue, and we want the best quality water of any pool in Nevada," said Chiapella.

The center also expanded their solar technology. They added 54 solar collectors to their existing 18 on the building's roof, for a total of 72 collectors.

"These will be used to heat the main indoor pool," said Chiapella. "Even the shallow area."

He said the center spends $15,000 a month on gas and electricity. The solar collectors cost $250,000 to build, but with the savings in energy costs, Chiapella said the collectors will pay for themselves in 11 years.

"One ounce of prevention is worth dollars of care," he said. "Outsiders are always impressed with the swim center. It's important to the community."


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