Chair’s report from 2021 AGM

The year under review started in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its threatening impact on pools and spas dominated PWTAG’s work for the next 12 months. We had already published critically important technical notes on how to safely close a pool, how to disinfect pool buildings in the face of Covid-19, and how to re-open a pool. And we had been in discussion with European colleagues about the pandemic challenges.

Janice Calvert

Pandemic related techincal notes

More technical notes followed. TN46 Swimming pool technical operation after Covid-19 shutdown (and a subsequent supplementary note), TN47 Spa and hot tub technical operation after Covid-19 shutdown and TN51 Paddling pool and splash park management during the Covid-19 pandemic – all were vital to operators trying to make sense of difficult times.

Meanwhile we found the time and energy to produce technical notes on swimming pool covers, circulation pumps and variable speed drives, filter specification, free and combined chlorine, lowering pH and microbiological testing. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many colleagues who have been involved in contributing to work on technical notes. PWTAG is fortunate to be able to call on such a range of expertise.

A successful 2021 online conference

But back to Covid. In March of this year, we staged an ambitious online conference on the subject. There were contributions from professors, researchers and other pool experts in the US, Austria, Holland, Italy Germany, Greece – and the UK. As ever, it was illuminating to see how other countries manage pools. The overall message was clear and I suppose unsurprising. Yes, pools can run safely despite Covid, provided disinfection etc are scrupulously attended to and particular care taken with ventilation, hygiene and distancing – bearing in mind always that aerosols are the big threat. It is reassuring that there have been no reported Covid outbreaks associated with pools.

Research inclusion

Over the last year or so, PWTAG has been closely involved in two bits of research, one on Covid, one on Crypto. Both are largely reassuring. Lab tests which exposed the Covid virus to a range of free chlorine and pH values confirmed that we can expect pool water to knock out at least 99.9% of the virus. And a survey of six leisure pools confirmed the efficacy of PWTAG standards, including bather hygiene and scrupulous management of faecal accidents.

Who knows what the future holds. But PWTAG will continue to publish relevant, up to date guidance on swimming pools, spas and hydrotherapy pools. None of this would be possible without the invaluable contributions of our members and their organisations. Thank you all.

Janice Calvert, PWTAG Chair; June 2021