Meeting with Paddock Pools at Germantown Aquatic Center

Attendees:

  • Paddock Pools:  Mark Wilkerson, Tom Lee, Gavin Chaze
  • AAA:  Carolyn Griglione, Jeanne Gardner, Bill Rivers
  • City Staff:  Ralph Baird

 

The purpose of the meeting was to learn the benefits of concrete pool construction since we had already met with a different firm on stainless steel pool construction.   The meeting was held at the Germantown Aquatic Center in Boyds, MD.   Paddock had built it and it contained several features similar to what we want at Chinquapin.

Mark gave a presentation on how a concrete pool was built and then Tom followed up with a presentation on some new technology (and not so new) that is on the market that will better the pool experience.  We then took a tour of the facility along with the Montgomery County Recreation Center Director.

Points highlighted in the discussion were:

  • Paddock has been around for over 90 years.  They emphasized that they were an American firm that used American products in building their pools.
  • The earth at the site is excavated and used as a mold for the concrete shell.
  • As with any construction project, rebar is the key to ensuring a strong structure.
  • They use stainless steel gutters that are welded together (to avoid any gaps).
  • The concrete surface is covered with plaster – usually one to two days to do the plastering – depending upon the size of the pool.
  • Usually end up cleaning the pool surface about once a month (or when complaints are made).
  • The pools at Germantown use horizontal sand filters as well as ultraviolet filters (about $30,000 each).
  • They use a sensor driven chlorine injection system to maintain stable levels of chlorine.  More dependable than having a staff member continually checking and trying to adjust levels.
  • Concrete pools cost less to build than stainless steel pools.  Also have the benefit of fewer joints where water could leak.
  • Paddock uses a color-coded system for the pipes in the “backrooms” supporting the pools.  Much easier to identify which pipes are which.
  • There was an impressive overhead water slide built there that funneled to a play pool area with several smaller slides in the pool area itself.  The overhead slide was actually above the recreation pool to maximize use of space.  Mark indicated that large slides are space “hogs” and have to be designed to use as little space as possible, but still provide the fun experience.
  • At Germantown, they used gravity to provide the flow of water to the smaller slides.  The overhead slide emptied into a pool that then had four slides emptying into a lower pool.  Using gravity to assist the water flow saved on pump costs.
  • Some of the technology suggestions:
    • Curved corners make for better water flow than squared corners.  Less surface resistance.
    • They recommended use of the Evacuator – a branded system used to pull chloramines away from the pool surface.  Chloramines are the result of the chlorine in the pool reacting to people in the water (their sunscreen, their sweat, etc.) and forming an invisible cloud just above the surface of the water.  For outdoor pools, the breeze dissipates the cloud.  However for indoor pools, it has to be handled by the ventilation system, which proves to be expensive and not very effective.  The Evacuator system is installed as part of the gutter system and sucks the chloramines’ cloud away.  There are also retrofit systems that can be placed along the perimeter of the pool area.  The cost for such a system is estimated to be about 5% of the entire pool cost (partially offset at least by reduced operating costs of the regular ventilation system).
    • The discussion about the Evacuator also brought out the desirability of such features as Alexandria strives to meet environmental standards on City projects.  There is a great possibility that the removal of chloramines will more than likely be required in the future health codes and standards.  This would support the need for an ‘Evacuator’ type system.  Such a system also works in tandem with the UV system thus reducing the impact on the UV system as well as on the ‘filter’ system used.  This also supports the LEED requirements set forth by the city.
    • There is also a Regenerator system (also known by other names by other manufacturers – Neptune Defender, etc.) that filters the pool water better than the traditional sand filters.  It significantly reduces the number of times that you have to “backwash” (or clean out) as compared to the more traditional filters.  They estimated that a Regenerator will last 3 to 4 times as long as the older filter systems.
      • They also described several types of sand filters that could be used, but all are less efficient than the Regenerator.
    • The facility used a reel system to take up the lane dividers.  Much more efficient than having a staff member try to pull them out of the water and store them at the side of the pool.  One reel for each lane divider.  The reels have wheels and can be moved out of the way.

 

Mark and Tom ended the presentation by emphasizing that Paddock would be available well after the warranty period for consultation and assistance.  Mark’s firm is local (Tom is from the national office in South Carolina) which he feels is a great benefit to the customer in case any issues arise.

After the presentation, Jeremy took us on a tour of the facility.  There were three different pools along with two spas at the complex.  A 25-meter competition pool with several diving platforms; a warmer recreation pool with 8 swimming lanes and a spa; and a play pool with the overhead slide, four smaller slides, spray features, bucket dumps, a kiddie wading area, and another spa.

Jeremy explained that they did not put in a 50-meter pool because the County already had one at a nearby facility.

Overall, the Germantown Aquatic Center is a very impressive facility.  Of note was that the recreation pool and the play pool areas looked to be about the same size as the existing pool space at Chinquapin.  It shows that a lot can be done with innovative approaches in the design phase.

One draw back that we saw was that the whole pool area seemed to be darker than desired.  Some of that may be due to the overhead slide, but it didn’t look like they had a very effective lighting system.  Jeremy indicated that he would like to put in a new lighting system or at least newer style lights that may help the situation.

The meeting and trip were very productive and well worth the time spent.

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