Update on Pool Conditions

We know you have been concerned about the cloudy water in the pool over the past few weeks.  I can assure you that the managers and the board are too aware and have been diligently working on correcting it.  I have spent many hours myself working at the pool trying to address series of challenges involved in improving the situation and we will all continue to work on it.  Here is some information that may help explain the cloudy conditions.

What makes the pool so cloudy and green?

There are lots of factors that contribute to the problem, and how much they come in to play varies from summer to summer.  These include:

  • Early algae growth, which can be because of a slow filtering system.  One of our filters is in need of some repair work, making it run very slowly.*
  • One particular type of algae is extremely tiny, so tiny that our vacuum cleaning can’t filter it out effectively.
  • Heavy bather load, which is always an issue because of the popularity of Glenwood.
  • Sun screen lotions, make-up and body fluids of bathers.  Hot showers are required by the health department prior to entering the pool, however this is very difficult if not impossible to enforce.
  • Warm water due to weather conditions (although this has improved in recent days).
  • High calcium hardness related to having to use more calcium-based chlorine chemicals to maintain the pool over the past month of very warm water (over 85 degrees).
  • Debris that falls into the pool, especially leaves and grass.  This is mostly from bathers not using foot showers prior to entering the pool and the large amount of trees and grass surrounding Glenwood.

At the end of last week the problem was exacerbated by a failed motor on one of our filter pumps, forcing us to close the pool for about 36 hours.  We were able to remove the motor and get it to a repair shop in Frederick that got it up and running the next day.  While we were able to re-open the pool safely, it sure set us back a few steps in correcting the water cloudiness.

Is it clean and safe to swim in?

Yes.  The cloudiness is mostly calcium precipitate and a little bit of algae (most of which settles on the bottom and sides of the pool. The pH and chlorine levels are correct and the water is safe for swimming.  However, if it becomes so cloudy that the main drain is not visible to the lifeguards, the diving well will be closed until the water clears.

What is being done to fix the problem?

Glenwood’s managers are working with pool experts to address this on a daily basis.  We have been using a number of special treatments to break the precipitate up and clear the water, which is done at night so as not to affect swimmers in any way. Other activities, most of which have to be done early in the day before there are swimmers in the pool, include:

  • Scrubbing the bottom and sides of the pool on a daily basis.
  • Intensive vacuuming.  This week we are bringing in a special type of vacuum device that is made to filter out the smallest of particles.  We are optimistic that this will help clear out much of the algae.
  • Scrubbing calcium scale off of pool tiles at the water surface

* When the pool closes for the season we will be having all of our filters taken apart for special cleaning, not just the one that is running slowly.  We have asked several pool and filter experts and have been advised strongly that this is not an activity we should attempt during the season.  This is a job for experts, not something that our staff can do, and it takes up to a week to refurbish our (5) filters.

We will also be “re-white coating” the pool before the 2012 season.  This is standard maintenance (although very expensive $20,000-$30,000) that has to be performed at least every 8-10 years or so on outdoor pools like ours.  This will, among other things, smooth the underwater surface making it more difficult for algae and chemical precipitates to settle on the bottom and sides of the pool.


Brian Slattery,
Board President