Swimming Pools - Building Services



2 Design

Pool Water Quality

4 Filtration

Water Circulation and Distribution The Internal Environment


7 EleCtrical Services

SPlumbtng and Drainage

10 The Plant Room

Managementand Operation

12 References

One of a seriespropared to give clear,concise, comprehensiveand up-to-date information on the planning, design and management of sports buildings. They are intended to promote value for money alliedwith qualityin all new and refurbished sports and recreational facilities.

o SportsCoufld: nber1994

( This document

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2. Design
Swimming pools make serious demands in terms of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the building services. Design comes first, and is critical to a successful facility The starting point for the design of any facility should be a comprehensiveassessment by the client body of the scale

Good building services are essential for high quality indoor swimming pools. Building services account for 35-50% of the total cost of most modern pools - from the most basic pools serving a small local communityto major leisure pools with manyseparatewaterareas and features.

A safe, comfortable and attractive internal environment is essential in orderto attract and sustain high levels of use.
The challenge is substantial: a large internal volume containing thousands of gallons of warm water which is constantly being agitated and requires continual chemical treatment to deal with pollution from large numbers of bathers demands high levels of environmental service to maintain satifactory conditions. This means that these elements need to be taken into account at the earliest possible stage of the design. The design, location, plant space and distribution of the various building serviceselements should be importantfactors in the general design and planning of the facility. Due to the relative complexity of the installations it is also critical that operation, maintenance and energy are also given early

of pool wanted, taking into account existing provision,
projected use, future plans, etc. This information can then be used to estimate the bathing load and pattern of use,

which in turn establishesthe requirements that the environmental service systems in general, and the pool watertreatment system in particular, will need to satisfy. Design Brief

A design brief should be produced by the client body that
is responsiblefor

considerationwhen the managementand operational planning for the facility is done. Achieving the building servicesthat meet the requirements of a particular facilityand operational strategy will necessarilyinvolve some compromises, and judgments based on priorities and assessment of critical
factors. This guidance note addressesthose issues.

the proposed pool. It should provide a broad description of requirements and set out the principal parameters of the design. It is important that the design brief highlights the main factors that will govern the detailed design of the various building services elements, including the pool watertreatment. These should include:

• •

the size and type of pool(s) and waterfeatures to be

the anticipated bathing load and patterns of use;

Figure 1: Typical Large Pool MechanicalServices Schematic

,., r_1


Reaction vessel

Sand filter

Ozone injection )vessel Ozone gas generator




• • • • •

the desired pool waterquality parameters(including

Pool Water Pollution
water is being polluted to some extent, primarily by bathers, the whole time it is being used. Whatever the source and type of pollution, it should be minimised at source, and dealt with by appropriate water treatment which should ensure that pool water is clear and presents no special risk of infection.

detailsof any specificrequirementsfor chemical treatment, filtration, circulation,dilution, ventilation, etc; environmental quality parametersfor all areas; proposed main plant areas and locations,etc; detailsof mains supplies and connections of fuel, electricity, drainage, etc;

• the nature of the incoming watersupply - hard or soft,
for example;

The substances which can be introduced to pool water from bathers' bodies fall into three categories:

• • •

tissues and excretions- urine, sweat, mucus, saliva, hair, 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

3. Pool Water


The most critical element in providing a good swimming pool environment is pool water quality. This is affected by pollution (including bacteria and viruses), the byproducts of disinfection, and mineral salts - both naturally present and added as part of the water treatment regime. Much of the information in this section is derived from the Pool Water Guide (see Reference section, page 9), which is the standard text on the subject.

and sweat. This reacts with disinfectant in the pool water to produce combined chlorine (or bromine) - the main cause of eye and skin irritation and irritant fumes in the air above the pool.

Many bacteria and viruses (collectively, micro-organisms) are introduced into the pool by bathers. The majority are harmless; even those that can cause disease (called pathogens) present no significant risk in a properly disinfected and managed pool. As an important check, though, microbiological testing of the pool water should be doneregularly.

Figure 2: Typical Small Pool - Mechanical Services Diagram

Monitoring sensor

Fresh air suppiy

* Some radiators have thermostatic vaives,

AU cons have thermostatic valveswith remote sensors




The main way of controlling pool water pollution is by effective pool hygiene, together with good circulation, disinfection and filtration. But there will still be a need to dilutewith fresh make-up water at a rate of up to 30 litres per bather per day to maintain satisfactory water quality. (Indeed, there are some contaminants which can only be removedby dilution.)

levels. Disinfectants must be dosed carefully - preferably automatically - and their levels monitored regularly. Dosing

and monitoring can be automated. There are many ways of of disinfecting swimming pool water; but the ones that are most often and reliably used are of four types - chlorine, chlorinated isocyanurates, bromine and ozone.

Pool Hygiene
In many European countries
sometimescompulsory)to shower before swimming. In the UK, however, showers are more often used to wash off the pool water after a swim. In fact, the chemicals that swimmers wish to remove after leaving the pooi are there mainly to cope with the pollution introduced by unshowered bathers

ChlorineThe action of sodium hypochlorite, calcium

it is quite routine (and

hypochlorite and chlorine gas in pool water is sufficiently similar for them all to be loosely referred to as chlorine. Chlorine disinfection is the most widely used method in public swimming pools. Sodium hypochlorite is a liquid, usuallysupplied in solution, but sometimes generated on site by electrolysis.
Calcium hypochlorite is a solid and can be supplied as powder, granules ortablets -which are dissolved prior to dosing.

In order to encourage proper pre-swim showering and hygiene it is recommended that adequate showers and toilet facilities should be provided on the direct route from the changing room to the pool - separate from post-swim showers. Pre-swim showers should operate with water at pool water temperature (or up to 2 degrees C above). If this can be supplied from the pool water circulation system and run to waste, the shower waterwill be disinfected and pool waterdilutionwill be encouraged.

Chlorine gas is supplied in bottles, and is subject to
stringent health and safety requirements. For all types of chlorine disinfection it is recommended that the free chlorine residual in the pool water (the chlorine available for disinfection) should be maintainedat the lowest level that provides satisfactory water quality (as assessed by microbiological and chemical monitoring). This should be possible at 1mg per litre or less and should never need to be above 2mg per litre. The combined chlorine residual (a measure of unwanted disinfectant byproducts) should always be less than the free chlorine - ideally less than half the free chlorine.

In practical terms, swimming pool disinfection cannot entirely remove microorganisms- but should control them and effectively reduce the risk of infection to minimum Figure 3: Typical SimpleChlorine Pool Water Treatment





chlorine/Ph sampler/controller

From Pool








Chlorinated isocyanuratesThese granules or tablets are an alternative means of providing chlorine-based disinfection Cyanuric acid is present in the pool water alongside the residual chlorine. It is recommended that the
levels should t,e: free chlorine residual 2.5 to 5.0mg per litre; cyanuric acid less than 200mg per litre (ideally 50 to 100mg per litre)

this can usually be controlled at a lower level than chlorine alone. Ozonation is comparativelyexpensive, but can deliver high quality poolwater. pH Value
The degree of acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of water is measured in terms of its pH value. A pH value of 7 is neutral; values below 7 indicate increasing acidity, values higher than 7 increasing alkalinity. Disinfectant activity is significantly affected by pH. All chlorine disinfectants, ozone + chlorine, and BCDMH work best towards the bottom of the recommended range of pH 7.2-7.8. Bromine disinfectantsoperate best in the pH range 7.8 to 8.2

Bromine There are number of disinfectant systems which
utilise bromine as the main disinfectant agent. Liquid bromine disinfects in a similar way to chlorine. It is recommended that the total bromine residual should be maintained between 1.5 and 3.5mg per litre (ideally between 2.0 and 2.5mg per litre). The combined bromine residual should be no more than half the free bromine.

A solid bromine donor- bromochlorodimethylhydantoin
(BCDMH) - is available in tablet form. There has been considerable debate over the years about reports of skin irritation and rashes associated with this, so designers and operators should be vigilant, ensure that the recommended guidelines are adhered to, and provide adequate dilution with fresh water. The recommended level of total active bromine residual with this system is between4 and 6mg per litre; dimethylhydantoinshould not exceed 200mg per litre.

of pH is generally by the addition of acid or alkali, depending on the type of disinfectant and the
The control source water. Alkaline disinfectants (sodium and calcium hypochlorite) normally require an acid (generally sodium bisulphate, carbon dioxide or hydrochloric acid) to control pH. Acidic disinfectants (chlorine gas, liquid bromine, chlorinated isocyanurates) normally require the addition of an alkali (usually sodium carbonate). Some combinations of source water and disinfectant will result in a poolwater not requiring any pH adjustment; it is always good practice to choose a disinfectantwith the source water in mind, and to adjust pH only enough to

Anothersystem involvessodium bromide and hypochlorite. The recommended bromine residual levels are as for liquid
bromine; a bromide reserve should be maintained between 9 and 1 5mg per litre.
This system is differentin that it purifies the water as it passes throughthe plant room, but does not provide a chemical residual in the pool water itself. So conventional treatment (usually with hypochlorite) is applied as well - but


addition of chemicalsto control pH will be of no benefit and may be detrimental to waterquality.

it within the recommendedrange. Any further


Balanced Water

A balanced water is technically one that is neither scale forming nor corrosive. For the majority of pools, however,

Figure 4: Typical Ozone PoolWater Treatment



the water will generally be adequatelybalanced if the pH is maintainedwithin the recommended range. The other

main factors affecting water balance are alkalinity,
hardness and dissolved solids.

It is recommended that a minimum of two filters are provided wherever possible, to increase flexibilityand to
provide some standby capacity during maintenance.

Alkalinity The total alkalinity of pooi water is a measure of the alkaline salts dissolved in it. The higher the alkalinity, the more resistant water is to changes in its pH value generally a good thing. The recommended range is 75 to
250mg per litre. Hardness The total hardnes of pooi water is a measure of its calcium and magnesium salts. Calcium hardness is particularly relevant to swimming pools: if it is below about 40mg per Iitre,the water may be corrosive. The recommended minimum value is 75mg per litre; although there is no theoretical upper limit, values over 500mg per litre are unlikely to be of any benefit.

Filters in public poois are generally of the vertical, downward-flowtype, but both horizontal and dual-flow (downward and upward flow) types have been used successfully. Mild steel with a corrosion protection lining is the most common material for filter tanks, but stainless steel, glass fibre and concrete have all been used

The addition of coagulants assists the removal of dissolved and colloidal material by producing a flocculate which is more easilytrapped on a filter. Aluminium sulphate (alum), polyaluminiumchloride (PAC), sodium aluminate, iron chloridesand iron sulphates have all been successfullyused as coagulants in swimming pools.

Total dissolved solids (TDS) This is the sum weight of all soluble material in the water and its measurementis useful as a warning of potential overloading or lack of dilution in a swimming pool. It should therefore be monitored and maintained at a maximum of 1000mg per litre above that of the source waterwith an absolute maximum of 3000mg per litre. In general TDS can only be controlled by dilution, usually via filter backwashingbut the fewer chemicals that can be used,the better. Sulphate As high levels of sulphate can attack cement and grout, its concentration should be separately monitored and 360mg per litre should not be exceeded. If sulphate levels cannot be maintained below this, sulphate-resistant Portland cement and epoxy grout may
have to be used.


Water Circulation and DiStr i bution

Water circulation and distribution are critically important in poolwater quality.

Turnover Period
The time taken for an amount equivalent to the total volume of pool water to circulate through the pooi and treatment plant is known as the turnover period. The choice of turnover period for a pool (or part of any pool) 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 beingtreated. Recommendedmaximum turnover periods for various pool types and areas are:



Maintaining the clarity of pool water is critical for safety and comfort. Clarity is reduced by turbidity (colloidal or

particulate matter in suspension in the water). It is important to determine the source of any turbidity- in case it can be dealt with directly - but the remedy is likely to be
adequate filtration.

• • •

diving poois 4-6 hours competition pools (25-50m long) 3-4.5hours conventional pools (up to 25m long) 2.5-3hours
leisure poois up to 0.5m deep, 0.5 hours;

Sand filters - rather than the cheaper cartridge and precoat or diatomaceous earth filters - are recommended for all non-domestic swimming pools. Because filter efficiency falls off rapidly at velocities of over 30m/h, medium rate filters (1 1-30m/h) are recommended. High-rate filters (315Dm/h) cannot handle colloids effectively; low-rate filters (up to lOmIh) tend to harbour bacteria.

0.5-1 m deep, 0.5-1 hour; 1-1.5m deep, 1-1.5 hours; over 1 .5m deep, 2-2.5hours.

Circulation It is very important that treated water is distributed to all
parts of the pooi and that polluted water is removed effectively, especially from areas most denselypopulated by bathers. Pool circulation systems which allow substantial proportions of water to be taken from the surface can be particularly efficient, as the pollution is generallygreatest at the watersurface.

the flow of water through the filter bed and discharging the water to waste) is essential if filters are to operate efficiently. It should be carried out strictly in accordance with manufacturers' instructions,at leastonce a week.

Regular, effective backwashing(cleaning filters by reversing



There are three main systems for removing surface water level-deck, overflow or scum channels, and skimmers. The most efficient of these is level-deck (able to handle up to 100% of the circulation flow via surface removal) and the least efficient skimmers (typically handling 5-10% of total flow via the surface). In order to ensure that the water remains at the correct level at all times, a balance tank, together with an automatic make-up water supply tank, is usually required.

Trends towards higher water temperatures can be linked to a numberof problems including higher energy costs, increased water and air pollution, discomfort for staff, deterioration of the building fabric, etc and this has led to the following recommendations for maximum pool

water temperatures.
27°C (80.5°F) competitive swimming and diving, fitness swimming, training 28°C (82.5°F) recreational, adult teaching, conventional main pools 29°C (84°F) 30°C (86°F) children's teaching, leisure pools
babies, young children, disabled.

water inlets should be arranged to ensure that each takes its required proportion of flow and that inlet velocities do not exceed 1 .5 to 2m/s. Outlets must be arranged so that there is no risk of bathers being drawn towards themor trapped.

Sufficient pumping capacity must be provided to ensure that the required pool turnover period is achieved when filters are dirty and providing maximum resistance. Sufficient standby pumping capacity should be provided to allow full circulation to continue when one of the main pumps is not running. The pumping system should be

Ventilation and Air Circulation
The pool hall ventilation system is normally the primary (or only) means of removing contaminants from the pool


of reduced flow rates when the pool


unoccupied, and must be able to provide the requiredflow rate for backwashing.

atmosphereand controlling the pool hall air quality, temperatureand humidity. It is generally recommended that air is well distributed over the whole area of the pool hall and that air movement within the occupied zone is maintained within acceptable limits for bather comfort. Extracting air at low level adjacent to sources of
contamination and evaporation may be beneficial. The ideal ventilation rate for a pool, taking into account varying external conditions, bather loads, evaporation, water quality, etc is very difficult to estimate and will, by


The Internal Environment

Maintaining a satisfactory environment in the pool hall, 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 bathingload, watertemperature and quality, materials and

Figure5: Typical Air Distribution

insulation of the pool hall envelope, plant location, integration with the building structure, and capital, operating and life-cycle costs.

A. High-levelextract

Temperatureand Humidity
The air temperature of the pool hall needs to be maintained at a comfortable level primarily for bathers, although staff,


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 temperaturesshould not, in general,exceed 30°C.
The ideal water temperature will obviously depend on the activity, but it is not practicableto vary water temperatures to suit every change in use of a particular pool area. So it is essential that optimum water temperatures are selected and controlled for each pool.

B. Low-level extract






necessity, change with varying circumstances. An effective, well distributed mechanical supply and extract ventilation system is, however, essential to maintain satisfactory internal environmental conditions under all
potential variations.

be some benefit in providing some warm air supply at low level (or underfloor heating) in order to maintain a dry floor surface.
Toilets should also be provided with a 100% fresh air ventilation system providing a minimum of ten air changes per hour. Where toilets are part of a changing room area, they should be maintained at or near changing room temperatures (24 or 25°C). But where they are separate from the pool hall and changing area, this can be reduced to around 20°C.

hall area (water area plus all wet surrounds) has been found to be satisfactory in a wide range of pools. This normally produces an overall total of about five air changes per hour, depending on the height of the pool hall. These figures may need to be increased to about nineair changes per hour for leisure poois with extensive water features.

A recommended guideline figures of 10 litres of ventilation air per second per square metre of total pool

A minimum of 12 litres per second of fresh air should be provided for each occupant via the ventilation system. As fresh air will be essential to control
contaminants and provide comfortable conditions, the supply ventilation should be designed to handle 100% fresh air when required.

7. Electrical Services
Particular care needs to be given to all aspects of the electrical services associatedwith swimming pools,

of pool air produces a risk of increasedbuildup of contaminants in the pool environment and increases the risk of deterioration of the equipment and fabric. So any recirculation consideredfor energy conservationshould be carefully controlled and used only when appropriate (eg during periods of light bathing loads and when the pool is unoccupied and pool covers are in use). In any case, it should generally be restricted to a maximum of 70% of the supply air volume (allowing a minimum of 30% fresh air at all times the pool is in use).

due to the damp, warm, corrosive atmosphere that installations need to withstand. Safety needs to be a prime consideration: all installations need to comply with the latest edition of the Institutionof Electrical Engineers (lEE) Regulations which has a section devoted to swimming pools (section 602). Reference should also be made to Safety in Swimming Pools, published jointly by the Sports Council and the Health and
Safety Commission.

Lighting Artificial lighting should be in accordance with the recommendations of the Chartered Institution of Building
Services Engineers (CIBSE) Lighting guide LG4 sports (recommended minimum maintained average iliuminance 200-300 lux). Minimising glare and reflectance from the surface of the pool is important. All luminaires and fittings need to be carefully selected as suitablefor swimming pool environments and located so that maintenance operations can be carried out easilyand safely.

Changing and Ancillary Areas
The ancillaryareas associated with a swimming poolshould generally be maintained at normal comfort temperature and humidity for dry facilities (about 20°C, 50% RH) and well ventilated. There may be some benefit in maintaining areas adjacent to the pool hall at a slightly positive air pressure relative to the hall itself, in order to contain any


cw;\c. c3c31 c



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
should be assessed independently and wherever possible these areas should be physicallyseparated from the pool hall in order that appropriate environmental conditions can be provided. The changing rooms are particularly important, being in a direct path between the entrance and the pool hall itself. The ideal temperature for these spaces is generally about half way between that of the entrance and the pooi hail. This will usually mean a temperature of 24 or 25°C. It is very important that adequate ventilation is provided in

8. Plumbing

and Drainage

Mains water is needed for filling and topping up the pool and supplying hot and cold water for domestic user use (including showers).This is normally a metered connection from a local mainswatersupply.

order to maintain comfortable conditions and control humidity levels. A minimum ventilation rate of ten air changesan hour(all fresh air) is recommended. There may

Drainage needs to be take account of the regular backwashing load and the rare occasions when the pool needs to be completelyemptied. The quality of water discharged into local waste water disposal systems may have to be of particular standards,and water disposal may be monitored and charged for.









9. Energy



Swimming pools are an almost unique building type: they operate at high temperaturesand humidities throughout the year. This creates potentially very high heating loads, so pool buildings should be very well insulated (ideally, at least50% better than current general building regulations) and well sealed from both the outsideand any surrounding areas. Heating the ventilation air will generally be a substantial heat load due to the relatively high ventilation volumes involved, so simple heat exchange devices (for example plate heat exchangers or round-around coils) should be

Management and Operation

The detailed management structure will depend on the size, type and nature of the pool. But whatever the scale of the operation, management and staff must have an understanding of the pool water treatment system and associated environmental services installations. Whatever specialiststaff are employed, the ultimate responsibilityfor management team. So all management staff must be able to monitor the operation of the building and, where necessary, take action to restore conditions in accordance with the appropriate guidelines. The manager or pool operator is responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonablypracticable, the health and safety of employees and others who may be affected by the undertaking. This will include protecting the public who use a swimming pool. The Health and Safety Executive/Sports Council publication, Safety in Swimming Pools gives detailed guidance in this area.

the operation of the building is carried by the

from exhaust air.

provided whenever possible to maximise energy reclaim

There are many energy efficiency devices and techniques which can be applied to pool installations- thermal wheels, heat pumps, desiccant heat recovery, combined heat and power units - together with various other heat recovery measures. It is important that these are carefully and separately evaluated over the projected life cycle of the building services installation - taking into account factors such as the management and maintenance implications before selection of the most appropriate for any facility.

It will normally be necessaryto 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 of an effective pool cover can normally reduce this requirement and therefore substantially reduce energy use.
The Department of the Environment's Building Research Energy Conservation Unit(BRECSU) are currently producing a series of publications providing advice on efficiency in swimming pools.

12. References

pool water
swimming pools

treatmentand quality of swimming




Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers Lighting guideLG4 - sports


10. The Plant Room
It is essential that adequate space and access is provided for all building services plant and equipment, to allow effective operation and maintenance. As a guide, 25% of the water area is required for pool water treatment, plant and 15% of the total building area for heating,

SportsCouncil Guidance Notes Swimming pools - changing and related amenities in public indoorswimming pools Swimming pools - improvementsand alterations to existing small pools Swimming pools - small publicindoor

F t

ventilation and electrical plant and equipment.

Water treatment plant should ideally be located as close as practicable to the pool; sufficient external access should be provided for possible replacement and refurbishment of major plant. There must be enough safe, convenient storage of chemicals with separate, contained storage areas for differenttypes of chemical where necessary and adequate external access for delivery, etc. Some items of plant may need to be located in clean, dry areas with specific environmental conditions (for example electrical distribution boards, control panels,ozone generatorsetc).









Afull list of guidance notes and othersports council publications is available
from the Information centre: TheSportscouncil 16 UpperWoburn Place
London WC1H OQP Tel: 0171-388 1277 Fax: 0171-383 5740


ISBN: 1 872158 gg 4


Sports Council GuidanceNotes Disclaimer This guidance note is one of a series produced by the Sports Council. It is intended to provide helpful data guidance which the reader can file for permanent

time, including variations required to comply with Governmentaldirections on the application of lottery
funds. The Sports Council reserves the right to amend, supplement and/or discontinue at its absolute discretion, for whatever reason, any or all of the guidelines set out in this publication.

Applicants for Lottery funding are advised, however, that these guidance notes and the guidelines contained herein have been prepared as a basicguide only. Applicants, their representativesor advisers, should not view the guidelines as a substitute for obtaining comprehensive expert or professional advice in relation to their applicationsfor Lottery funding. These guidelines and the Sports Council policies on lottery funding applications are subject to change from time to 10

While everyeffort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the guidelines and other information contained within this publication, the Sports Council, its servants or agents shall not at any time, in any circumstances,be held responsible or liable to any applicant or any other party in respect of any loss, damage or costs of any nature arising directly or indirectly from reliance placed on the guidelines within this publication or any otherguidelines or policies issued by the Sports Council.

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