Visitors to the pool at Meadow Park might have noticed a few changes when the facility reopened to the public on Monday, Oct. 4, like the repainted kids pool and patch painting in the lap pool.
The real changes are behind the steel door, where a new UV system was installed that reduced the need for chlorine in both pools - something that will also improve the indoor air quality. As well, visitors may notice warmer water, both in the pool and in the showers, as a result of the new geothermal and solar systems that have been added to the building - the solar system was added last year and the geothermal in the spring (although it wasn't fully functioning until the end of this summer).
These upgrades haven't been cheap, but Roger Weetman, the manager of recreation services for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, says the expected payback of all these systems is estimated at between six and 10 years by reducing the need for natural gas and chlorine. Operating costs should be reduced by roughly $100,000 a year, although the actual figure could be higher or lower depending on factors like the amount of sun.
The pool closed to the public on Sept. 7 for the latest upgrades.
"The exciting thing for this year is the UV system," said Weetman. "We used to have an ozonator, which were common about 10 years ago, but when you put the pool water through the ozonator it's only about 20 per cent effective. When you use UV, 100 per cent of the water is being disinfected."
Weetman adds that the UV system should help Meadow Park reduce its use of chlorine to the minimum levels mandated by the province, but they could probably get away with using even less than that.
The chlorine smell - which is the result of chloride reacting with organics to create chloramines - should be reduced significantly. Combined with the new heating and air system installed three years ago, Weetman says the air quality will be greatly improved. As well, the water will also be easier on the eyes and skin.
Heating the pool water has also been revolutionized in recent years. Last summer the municipality installed a solar system at Meadow Park that can heat water up to 65.5 degrees Celsius, which is used to assist the boilers in providing hot water to the showers. This spring that solar system has also been hooked up to the pool so heated water can be channeled into the pool system to replace water that's lost to evaporation.
Previously that water was drawn from the municipal water system, which is significantly colder and requires a lot of energy to heat. That required a lot of natural gas, while also resulting in cooler pool temperatures sometimes when more water was required to maintain pool levels.