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C 0 N T E N T S I. Introduction 2

2. Design 2

3. Pool Water Quality 3

4. Filtration 6

5. Water Circulation and Distribution- 6

6. The Internal Environment 7

7. Electrical Services 8

8. Plumbing and Drainage 8

9. Energy Management 9
10. The Plant Room 9
11. Management and Operation 9
12. References 9

These digests are part of a series prepared t o offer guidance on the planning, design and
management of sports buildings. They aim to promote value for money and quality in new and
upgraded facilities.
0 The Scottish Sports Council. April 1995

1. Introduction 2. Design
I Good building services are essential for high quality indoor Swimming pools make serious demands in terms of the
swimming pools. Building services account for 35-50% of design, construction, operation and maintenance of the
the total cost of most modern pools - from the most basic building services. Design comes first, and is critical to a
pools serving a small local community to major leisure successf uI facility.
pools with many separate water areas and features.
The starting point for the design of any facility should be a
A safe, comfortable and attractive internal environment is comprehensive assessment by the client body of the scale
essential in order to attract and sustain high levels of use. of pool wanted, taking into account existing provision,
The challenge is substantial: a large internal volume projected use, future plans, etc. This information can then
containing thousands of gallons of warm water which is be used to estimate the bathing load and pattern of use,
constantly being agitated and requires continual chemical which in turn establishes the requirements that the
treatment to deal with pollution from large numbers of environmental service systems in general, and the pool
bathers demands high levels of environmental service to water treatment system in particular, will need to satisfy.
maintain satisfactory conditions. This means that these
elements need to be taken into account at the earliest Design Brief
possible stage of the design.
A design brief should be produced by the client body that
The design, location, plant space and distribution of the is responsible for the proposed pool. It should provide a
various building services elements should be important factors broad description of requirements and set out the principal
in the general design and planning of the facility. Due to the parameters of the design. It is important that the design
relative complexity of the installations it is also critical that brief highlights the main factors that will govern the
operation, maintenance and energy are also given early detailed design of the various building services elements,
consideration when the management and operational including the pool water treatment. These should include:
planning for the facility is done. Achieving the building services
that meet the requirements of a particular facility and the size and type of pool(s) and water features to be
operational strategy will necessarily involve some compromises, included;
and judgments based on priorities and assessment of critical
factors. This Technical Digest addresses those issues. the anticipated bathing load and patterns of use;

Figure 1: Typical Large Pool Mechanical Services Schematic

I BoilerS 1pI
Ozone injection

Ozone gas
generator I
POOI water supply '


the desired pool water quality parameters (including Pool Water Pollution
Pool water is being polluted to some extent, primarily by
details of any specific requirements for chemical bathers, the whole time it is being used. Whatever the
treatment, filtration, circulation, dilution, ventilation, etc; source and type of pollution, it should be minimised a t
environmental quality parameters for all areas; source, and dealt with by appropriate water treatment
which should ensure that pool water is clear and presents
proposed main plant areas and locations, etc; no sDecial risk of infection.
details of mains supplies and connections of fuel, The substances which can be introduced to pool water
electricity, drainage, etc; from bathers' bodies fall into three categories:
the nature of the incoming water supply - hard or soft,
tissues and excretions - urine, sweat, mucus, saliva, hair,
for example;
skin scales and faecal matter;
plant operation and maintenance;
dirt - many types, organic and inorganic;
cosmetics - powders, creams, lotions, oils, etc.

Of these, the biggest problem is generally the urea in urine

and sweat. This reacts with disinfectant in the pool water
3. Pool Water Quality to produce combined chlorine (or bromine) - the main
cause of eye and skin irritation and irritant fumes in the air
The most critical element in providing a good swimming above the pool.
pool environment is pool water quality. This is affected by
Many bacteria and viruses (collectively, micro-organisms)
pollution (including bacteria and viruses), the byproducts of
are introduced into the pool by bathers. The majority are
disinfection, and mineral salts - both naturally present and
harmless; even those that can cause disease (called
added as part of the water treatment regime.
pathogens) present no significant risk in a properly
Much of the information in this section is derived from the disinfected and managed pool. As an important check,
Pool Water Guide (see Reference section, page 9), which is though, microbiological testing of the pool water should
the standard text on the subject. be done regularly
Figure 2: Typical Small Pool - Mechanical Services Diagram

Monitoring sensor

Main air handling unit

-+ Office Ex!ract Exhaust

ihi! -w Filters f- Circulation --I+



controlled valve Radiators' Toilets I
.,c & Humidity
pipe coils
I ,
' I r -Temperature
& Humidity

' * Some radiators have thermostatic valves

All coils have thermostatic valves with remote sensors


The main way of controlling pool water pollution is by levels. Disinfectants must be dosed carefully - preferably
effective pool hygiene, together with good circulation, automatically - and their levels monitored regularly. Dosing
disinfection and filtration. However, there will still be a and monitoring can be automated.
need to dilute with fresh make-up water at a rate of up to
There are many ways of of disinfecting swimming pool
30 litres per bather per day to maintain satisfactory water
water; but the ones that are most often and reliably used
quality. (Indeed, there are some contaminants which can
are of four types - chlorine, chlorinated isocyanurates,
only be removed by dilution.)
bromine and ozone.
Pool Hygiene Chlorine The action of sodium hypochlorite, calcium
In many European countries it is quite routine (and hypochlorite and chlorine gas in pool water is sufficiently
sometimes compulsory) to shower before swimming. In the similar for them all to be loosely referred to as chlorine.
UK, however, showers are more often used to wash off the Chlorine disinfection is the most widely used method in
pool water after a swim. In fact, the chemicals that public swimming pools.
swimmers wish to remove after leaving the pool are there Sodium hypochlorite is a liquid, usually supplied in solution,
mainly t o cope w i t h the pollution introduced by but sometimes generated on site by electrolysis.
unshowered bathers.
Calcium hypochlorite is a solid and can be supplied as powder,
In order to encourage proper pre-swim showering and granules or tablets - which are dissolved prior to dosing.
hygiene it is recommended that adequate showers and
Chlorine gas is supplied in bottles, and is subject t o
toilet facilities should be provided on the direct route from
stringent health and safety requirements.
the changing room to the pool - separate from post-swim
showers. Pre-swim showers should operate with water at For all types of chlorine disinfection it is recommended that
pool water temperature (or up to 2 degrees C above). If the free chlorine residual in the pool water (the chlorine
this can be supplied from the pool water circulation system available for disinfection) should be maintained a t the
and run to waste, the shower water will be disinfected and lowest level that provides satisfactory water quality (as
pool water dilution will be encouraged. assessed by microbiological and chemical monitoring). This
should be possible a t 1 mg per litre or less and should never
Disinfection need to be above 2mg per litre. The combined chlorine
In practical terms, swimming pool disinfection cannot residual (a measure of unwanted disinfectant byproducts)
entirely remove microorganisms - but should control them should always be less than the free chlorine - ideally less
and effectively reduce the risk of infection to minimum than half the free chlorine.
Figure 3: Typical Simple Chlorine Pool Water Treatment


I To drain

n Heater

Sight glass

To drain
Alum NRV TO drain

Compressor To drain


Chlorinated isocyanurates These granules or tablets are this can usually be controlled at a lower level than chlorine
an alternative means of providing chlorine-based alone. Ozonation is comparatively expensive, but can deliver
disinfection. Cyanuric acid is present in the pool water high quality pool water.
alongside the residual chlorine. It is recommended that the
levels should be: free chlorine residual 2.5 to 5.0mg per pH Value
litre; cyanuric acid less than 200mg per litre (ideally 50 to The degree of acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of water is
1OOmg per litre). measured in terms of its pH value. A pH value of 7 is
Bromine There are number of disinfectant systems which neutral; values below 7 indicate increasing acidity, values
utilise bromine as the main disinfectant agent. higher than 7 increasing alkalinity. Disinfectant activity is
significantly affected by pH. All chlorine disinfectants,
Liquid bromine disinfects in a similar way to chlorine. It is ozone + chlorine, and BCDMH work best towards the
recommended that the total bromine residual should be bottom of the recommended range of pH 7.2-7.8. Bromine
maintained between 1.5 and 3.5mg per litre (ideally disinfectants operate best in the pH range 7.8 to 8.2.
between 2.0 and 2.5mg per litre). The combined bromine
residual should be no more than half the free bromine. The control of pH is generally by the addition of acid or
alkali, depending on the type of disinfectant and the
A solid bromine donor- bromochlorodimethylhydantoin source water. Alkaline disinfectants (sodium and calcium
(BCDMH) - is available in tablet form. There has been hypochlorite) normally require an acid (generally sodium
considerable debate over the years about reports of skin bisulphate, carbon dioxide or hydrochloric acid) to control
irritation and rashes associated with this, so designers and pH. Acidic disinfectants (chlorine gas, liquid bromine,
operators should be vigilant, ensure that the recommended chlorinated isocyanurates) normally require the addition of
guidelines are adhered to and provide adequate dilution an alkali (usually sodium carbonate).
with fresh water. The recommended level of total active
bromine residual with this system is between 4 and 6mg per Some combinations of source water and disinfectant will
litre; dimethylhydantoin should not exceed 200mg per litre. result in a pool water not requiring any pH adjustment; it is
always good practice to choose a disinfectant with the
Another system involves sodium bromide and hypochlorite. source water in mind, and to adjust pH only enough to
The recommended bromine residual levels are as for liquid bring it within the recommended range. Any further
bromine; a bromide reserve should be maintained between addition of chemicals to control pH will be of no benefit
9 and 15mg per litre. and may be detrimental to water quality.
Ozone This system is different in that it purifies the water Balanced Water
as it passes through the plant room, but does not provide a
chemical residual in the pool water itself. So conventional A balanced water is technically one that is neither scale
treatment (usually with hypochlorite) is applied as well - but forming nor corrosive. For the majority of pools, however,
Figure 4: Typical Ozone Pool Water Treatment

aA+3 TArain Idrain

To drain

Compressor To drain Ozone bypass TC


the water will generally be adequately balanced if the pH is It is recommended that a minimum of t w o filters are
maintained within the recommended range. The other provided wherever possible, to increase flexibility and to
main factors affecting water balance a re alkalinity, provide some standby capacity during maintenance.
hardness and dissolved solids.
Filters in public pools a r e generally of the vertical,
Alkalinity The total alkalinity of pool water is a measure of downward-flow type but both horizontal and dual-flow
the alkaline salts dissolved in it. The higher the alkalinity, (downward and upward flow) types have been used
the more resistant water is to changes in its pH value - successfully. Mild steel with a corrosion protection lining is
generally a good thing. The recommended range is 75 to the most common material for filter tanks but stainless
250mg per litre. steel, glass fibre and concrete have all been used
Hardness The total hardness of pool water is a measure of
its calcium and magnesium salts. Calcium hardness is The addition of coagulants assists the removal of dissolved
particularly relevant to swimming pools: if it is below about and colloidal material by producing a flocculate which is
40mg per litre,the water may be corrosive. The more easily trapped on a filter. Aluminium sulphate (alum),
recommended minimum value is 75mg per litre; although polyaluminium chloride (PAC), sodium aluminate, iron
there is no theoretical upper limit, values over 500mg per chlorides and iron sulphates have all been successfully used
litre are unlikely to be of any benefit. as coagulants in swimming pools.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) This is the sum weight of all
soluble material in the water and its measurement is useful
as a warning of potential overloading or lack of dilution in
a swimming pool. It should therefore be monitored and
5. Water Circulation and
maintained at a maximum of 1000mg per litre above that Di s t r ibut ion
of the source water with an absolute maximum of 3000mg
per litre. In general TDS can only be controlled by dilution,
usually via filter backwashing but the fewer chemicals that Water circulation and distribution are critically important in
can be used, the better. pool water quality.

Sulphate As high levels of sulphate can attack cement Turnover Period

and grout, i t s concentration should be separately The time taken for an amount equivalent to the total
monitored and 360mg per litre should not be exceeded. If volume of pool water to circulate through the pool and
sulphate levels cannot be maintained below this, treatment plant is known as the turnover period. The
sulphate-resistant Portland cement and epoxy grout may choice of turnover period for a pool (or part of any pool)
have to be used. should be one of the earliest design decisions once the
pool type, size, shape and bathing load are agreed. The
shorter the turnover period, the more frequently and
thoroughly the water is being treated.
4. 'Filtration
Recommended maximum turnover periods for various pool
types and areas are:
Maintaining the clarity of pool water is critical for safety
diving pools 4-6 hours
and comfort. Clarity is reduced by turbidity (colloidal or
particulate matter in suspension in the water). It i s competition pools (25-50m long) 3-4.5 hours
important to determine the source of any turbidity - in
conventional pools (up to 25m long) 2.5-3 hours
case it can be dealt with directly - but the remedy is likely
to be adequate filtration. leisure pools up to 0.5m deep, 0.5 hours;

Sand filters - rather than the cheaper cartridge and pre- 0.5-1m deep, 0.5-1 hour;
coat or diatomaceous earth filters - are recommended for 1-1.5m deep, 1-1.5 hours;
all non-domestic swimming pools. Because filter efficiency over 1.5m deep, 2-2.5 hours.
falls off rapidly a t velocities of over 30m/h, medium rate
filters (1 1-30m/h) are recommended. High-rate filters (31- Circulation
50m/h) cannot handle colloids effectively; low-rate filters
It is very important that treated water is distributed to all
(up to 10m/h) tend to harbour bacteria.
parts of the pool and that polluted water is removed
Regular, effective backwashing (cleaning filters by reversing effectively, especially from areas most densely populated by
the flow of water through the filter bed and discharging bathers. Pool circulation systems which allow substantial
the water to waste) is essential if filters are to operate proportions of water to be taken from the surface can be
efficiently. It should be carried out strictly in accordance particularly efficient, as the pollution is generally greatest at
with manufacturers' instructions, at least once a week. the water surface.


There are three main systems for removing surface water - Trends towards higher water temperatures can be linked
level-deck, overflow or scum channels, and skimmers. The to a number of problems including higher energy costs,
most efficient of these is level-deck (able to handle up to increased water and air pollution, discomfort for staff,
100% of the circulation flow via surface removal) and the deterioration of the building fabric, etc and this has led
least efficient skimmers (typically handling 5-10% of total to the following recommendations for maximum pool
flow via the surface). In order to ensure that the water water temperatures.
remains at the correct level at all times, a balance tank,
27OC (80.5OF) competitive swimming and diving, fitness
together with an automatic make-up water supply tank, is
swimming, training
usually required.
Pool water inlets should be arranged to ensure that each 28°C (82.5OF) recreational, adult teaching, conventional
t a k e s its required proportion of flow and that inlet main pools
velocities do not exceed 1 . 5 to 2m/s. Outlets must be 29°C (84OF) children's teaching, leisure pools
arranged so that there is no risk of bathers being drawn
towards them or trapped. 3OoC (86OF) babies, young children, disabled
Sufficient pumping capacity must be provided to ensure Ventilation and Air Circulation
that the required pool turnover period is achieved when
filters are dirty and providing maximum resistance. The pool hall ventilation system is normally the primary (or
Sufficient standby pumping capacity should be provided to only) means of removing contaminants from the pool
allow full circulation to continue when one of the main atmosphere and controlling the pool hall air quality,
pumps is not running. The pumping system should be temperature and humidity. It is generally recommended
capable of reduced f l o w rates when the pool is that air is well distributed over the whole area of the pool
unoccupied, and must be able to provide the required flow hall and that air movement within the occupied zone is
rate for backwashing. maintained within acceptable limits for bather comfort.
Extracting air at low level adjacent t o sources of
contamination and evaporation may be beneficial.

The ideal ventilation rate for a pool, taking into account

6. The Internal Environment varying external conditions, bather loads, evaporation,
water quality, etc is very difficult to estimate and will, by

Maintaining a satisfactory environment in the pool hall, Figure 5: Typical Air Distribution
and all the other areas of the building, is essential for the
comfort of users. It also ensures a reasonably extended
working life for the pool building. Heating and ventilation
need to take into account a wide range of factors such as
bathing load, water temperature and quality, materials and
insulation of the pool hall envelope, plant location,
integration with the building structure, and capital,
operating and life-cycle costs.

Temperature and Humidity

The air temperature of the pool hall needs to be maintained
at a comfortable level - primarily for bathers, although staff, A. High-level extract
instructors, lifeguards and spectators also need
consideration. Pool water temperature and air temperature
and humidity need to be controlled so that user comfort is
maximised and evaporation from the pool surface
minimised. Typically this balance is best achieved with pool
air temperature at or up to 1 degree C above pool water
temperature, and a relative humidity of 50-70%. Air
temperatures should not, in general, exceed 3OOC.

The ideal water temperature will obviously depend on the

activity, but it is not practicable to vary water temperatures
to suit every change in use of a particular pool area. So it is
essential that optimum water temperatures are selected B. Low-level extract
and controlled for each pool.


necessity, change w i t h varying circumstances. An be some benefit in providing some warm air supply a t low
effective, well distributed mechanical supply and extract level (or underfloor heating) in order to maintain a dry
ventilation system is, however, essential to maintain floor surface.
satisfactory internal environmental conditions under all
potential variations. Toilets should also be provided with a 100% fresh air
ventilation system providing a minimum of ten air changes
A recommended guideline figures of 10 litres of per hour. Where toilets are part of a changing room area,
ventilation air per second per square metre of total pool they should be maintained a t or near changing room
hall area (water area plus all wet surrounds) has been temperatures (24 or 25°C). But where they are separate
found to be satisfactory in a wide range of pools. This from the pool hall and changing area, this can be reduced
normally produces an overall total of about five air to around 20°C.
changes per hour, depending on the height of the pool
hall. These figures may need to be increased to about
nine air changes per hour for leisure pools with extensive
water features.
7. Electrical Services
A minimum of 12 litres per second of fresh air should
. be provided for each occupant via the ventilation
system. As fresh air w i l l be essential t o c o n t r o l Particular care needs to be given to all aspects of the
contaminants and provide comfortable conditions, the electrical services associated with swimming pools,
supply ventilation should be designed to handle 100% due t o the damp, warm, corrosive atmosphere that
fresh air when required. installations need to withstand. Safety needs to be a
prime consideration: all installations need to comply with
Recirculation of pool air produces a risk of increased build- the latest edition of the Institution of Electrical Engineers
up of contaminants in the pool environment and increases (IEE) Regulations which has a section devoted
the risk of deterioration of the equipment and fabric. So t o swimming pools (section 602). Reference should
any recirculation considered for energy coniervation should also be made to Safety in Swimming Pools, published
be carefully controlled and used only when appropriate (eg jointly by the Sports Council and t h e Health and
during periods of light bathing loads and when the pool is Safety Commission.
unoccupied and pool covers are in use). In any case, it
should generally be restricted to a maximum of 70% of the Lighting
supply air volume (allowing a minimum of 30% fresh air a t
all times the pool is in use). Artificial lighting should be in accordance w i t h the
recommendations of the Chartered Institution of Building
Changing and Ancillary Areas Services Engineers (CIBSE) Lighting guide LG4 - sports
The ancillary areas associated with a swimming pool should (recommended minimum maintained average illuminance
generally be maintained a t normal comfort temperature 200-300 lux). Minimising glare and reflectance from the
and humidity for dry facilities (about 20°C. 50% RH) and surface of the pool is important. All luminaires and fittings
well ventilated. There may be some benefit in maintaining need to be carefully selected as suitable for swimming pool
areas adjacent to the pool hall at a slightly positive air environments and located so that maintenance operations
pressure relative to the hall itself, in order to contain any can be carried out easily and safely.
swimming pool smell in the pool area.
Separate areas within the pool hall itself which are utilised
for eating, drinking, social and casual spectating can be
difficult to keep comfortable. Their particular requirements 8. Plumbing
should be assessed independently and wherever possible and Drainage
these areas should be physically separated from the pool
hall in order that appropriate environmental conditions
can be provided. Mains water is needed for filling and topping up the pool
and supplying hot and cold water for domestic use
The changing rooms are particularly important, being in (including showers). This is normally a metered connection
a direct path between the entrance and the pool hall from a local mains water supply.
itself. The ideal temperature for these spaces is generally
about half way between that of the entrance and the pool Drainage needs t o be take account of the regular
hall. This will usually mean a temperature of 24 or 25°C. It backwashing load and the rare occasions when the pool
is very important that adequate ventilation is provided in needs to be completely emptied. The quality of water
order to maintain comfortable conditions and control discharged into local waste water disposal systems may
humidity levels. A minimum ventilation rate of ten air have to be of particular standards and water disposal may
changes an hour (all fresh air) is recommended. There may be monitored and charged for.

. ..

9. Energy Management 11. Management and

Swimming pools are an almost unique building type: they
operate at high temperatures and humidities throughout the
year. This creates potentially very high heating loads, so pool The detailed management structure will depend on the
buildings should be very well insulated (ideally, at least 50% size, type and nature of the pool. But whatever the scale
better than current general building regulations) and well of the operation, management and staff must have an
sealed from both the outside and any surrounding areas. understanding of the pool water treatment system and
associated environmental services installations. Whatever
Heating the ventilation air will generally be a substantial specialist staff are employed, the ultimate responsibility for
heat load due t o the relatively high ventilation volumes t h e operation o f t h e b u i l d i n g is carried by t h e
involved so simple heat exchange devices (for example management team. So all management staff must be able
plate heat exchangers or run around coils) should be t o monitor the operation of the building and, where
provided whenever possible t o maximise energy reclaim necessary, take action t o restore conditions in accordance
from exhaust air. with the appropriate guidelines.
There are many energy efficiency devices and techniques The manager or pool operator is responsible under the
which can be applied t o pool installations - thermal Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 t o ensure, as far as is
wheels, heat pumps, desiccant heat recovery, combined reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees
heat and power units - together with various other heat and others who may be affected by the undertaking. This
recovery measures. It is important that these are carefully will include protecting the public who use a swimming
and separately evaluated over the projected life cycle of the pool. The Health and Safety Executive/Sports Council
building services installation - taking into account factors publication, Safety in Swimming Pools gives detailed
such as the management and maintenance implications - guidance in this area.
before selection of the most appropriate for any facility.

It will normally be necessary t o run the pool ventilation

system for at least part of the time that the pool is not
actually in use, in order to prevent condensation. The use
12. References
o f an effective pool cover can normally reduce this
requirement and therefore substantially reduce energy use. POOL WATER TREATMENT ADVISORY GROUP POOL
WATER GUIDE The treatment and quality of swimming
The Department of the Environment’s Building Research
pool water
Energy Conservation Unit (BRECSU) are currently producing
a series o f publications providing advice o n energy HEALTH & SAFETY EXECUTIVE / SPORTS COUNCIL Safety in
efficiency in swimming pools. swimming pools
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
Lighting guide LG4 -sports

10. The Plant Room

It is essential that adequate space and access is provided
for all building services plant and equipment, t o allow Technical Digests:
effective operation and maintenance. As a guide, 25%
No. 300 Swimming Pools - Small Pool Design f3.00
of the water area is required for pool water treatment,
plant and 15% of the total building area for heating, No. 301 Swimming Pools - Improvements and
ventilation and electrical plant and equipment. Alterations f 3 .OO

Water treatment plant should ideally be located as close as No. 302 Swimming Pools - Changing Accommodation
practicable t o the pool; sufficient external access should be f3.00
provided for possible replacement and refurbishment of
major plant. There must be enough safe, convenient
storage of chemicals with separate, contained storage
areas for different types of chemical where necessary and
adequate external access for delivery, etc. Some items of
plant may need t o be located in clean, dry areas with
specific environmental conditions (for example electrical
distribution boards, control panels, ozone generators etc).

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A full list of the technical digests in the series is available from f3.00 ISBN 1 8 5 0 6 0 350
The Scottish Sports Council
Caledonia House
South Gyle
Tel 0131-317 7200 Fax 0131-317 7202 SSC 721 -7-1
~ ~~ ~ ~~~~~

This technical digest and others in the series are intended to assist organisations in considering and working up projects
for implementation. They are not a substitute for expert or professional advice on individual projects. The Scottish Sports
Council shall not be held responsible or liable to any party for any loss, damage, costs or others arising from any reliance
placed on this and other technical digests.