Chair’s report from 2023 AGM

This my last chair’s report, although that’s what I thought in 2013, after my first five-year spell as chair. At the end of this second, seven-year term, I look forward to finally passing on the baton – and with considerable progress made on my last lap. I firmly believe that it is time for new blood to take the group to the next stage in our evolution.

I am proud to say that recent years have seen the development of a financially secure structure to support the group. This progress is largely down to the introduction and growth of the industry and training forums and the development of our practical training initiatives. Both of these have increased the scope of our work and influence, and the latter has given us some financial security. We now have over 9,000 PWTAG-accredited trainees on the SPTO register.

After many years of relying mainly on book sales and member subscriptions to fund our important work (and fruitless attempts to get government funding) our healthy finances mean we can expand modestly. We will appoint a part-time CEO and further expansion of the SPTO register may allow us to make that a full-time appointment.

Meanwhile our regular work continues – as it has for almost 40 years. In the last 12 months we have produced technical notes on extending pool use, monitoring pools remotely and suction entrapment in spa pools. We also produced an important, longer work – the first in a series of guidance notes – Net Zero Carbon Pools. There are several more guidance notes in the pipeline. Our Code of Practice remains a much-used, freely available adjunct to our bible, Swimming Pool Water.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many colleagues who have contributed to this work. PWTAG is fortunate to be able to call on such a range of freely available expertise. I would particularly like to thank Ralph Riley, whose support as vice-chair has been central to the stability of the group and helped us meet the demands of both members and public.

This last year has seen some very tricky demands. Covid had been enough of a challenge, but as that threat faded, disinfectant supplies shrank and energy cost rises threatened the very future of many pools. PWTAG was able to publish some timely advice on both these issues.

Rachel Chalmers, Ralph Riley and I represented the UK at the recent International Swimming Pool Conference in Bologna, which revolved around the sustainability of pools. This has given us much food for thought about changes in pool water standards, including a review of the indicator organisms used for determining microbial quality and setting other standards by risk assessment rather than by rote.

Plans for our own annual conference in November 2023 are well underway. We are pleased to say that this will be in person after many distant years; but for those unable to come, zoom will come to you.

After all the delays associated with Covid, at long last our next research project has started. Its aim is to assess the effectiveness of coagulants under normal operation, using particle counting and turbidity measurements. We hope to have results to share in the next few months.

What does the future hold for PWTAG? On-line training, podcasts, Youtube videos and much more, so our website remains an important way of keeping in touch and not missing out. PWTAG will continue to publish relevant, uptodate 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.