Have a question concerning Aquatic Engineering or Waterpark Design? Just ask the professionals. Rick Dandes over at Recreation Management Magazine did just that when writing his latest article titled Trickle Down Theory – Boosting Waterpark Fun to Grow Revenues, Build Community. Rick spoke with Cloward H2O about how smaller waterparks are finding new and creative ways to survive, and even prosper, within tight budget constraints.

“An interesting design development at smaller parks is aquatic recreational areas that residents can enjoy at no additional charge.These areas often include interactive water features with artificial rivers that integrate splashpads and spray fountains. Such areas are increasing traffic to sections of cities or towns that were experiencing fewer visitors due to aging facilities.”

We also discussed new developments in water conservation, referring back to a recent job (Wet’n’Wild waterpark in Las Vegas) in which we integrated VFDs into the mechanical system of the waterpark.

Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas“The recently completed Wet’n’Wild waterpark in Las Vegas provides a good example of what can be done to help conserve water, while also providing a fun recreational experience. Due to things like slides ending in shallow run-outs instead of pools, water is captured and reused more efficiently. [Cloward H2O] designed it to have the water stored in storage tanks underground, away from the dry desert air.  Another conservation tool is the use of regenerative media filters that discharge a fraction of the water to the sewer that traditional sand filters use during a backwash cycle. Regenerative filters also operate at a lower pressure, which allows for about 20 percent less pumping power, that in turn leads to less energy usage. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) on pump motors are another energy saver. These devices allow pumps to operate more efficiently, lowering the electricity usage demands. The technology has been around for a long time, but the prices of the devices have been coming down, making them more feasible even on small projects.

Rick addressed the issue of water treatment and the many forms in which it can be performed. We explained that although a variety of treatments exist, it would be smart to look at what aquatic life support systems have done for years.

Many of the technologies that have been used for years in aquatic life support systems (LSS, or systems designed for aquariums) are starting to be more effectively utilized in swimming pools and their associated treatment systems. LSS engineers rely on the highest quality equipment, redundancy, high turn-over rates, mechanical filtration, ozone and vigilant staff to keep healthy aquatic environments. Proper water quality control and chemical balance are crucial to pool health. Great technology cannot compensate for poor maintenance or control systems. Recreation ManagementAquarium life support systems turned to ozone some decades ago for its unique ability to achieve high microbial kill rates with no harmful residual effects on the water. While not new, ozone could be more utilized in swimming pools, as it is the most powerful oxidizer and sanitizer available. The result of a system using ozone, is safe and crystal clear water. While UV is being utilized more in commercial pools, it is not the most effective or the least expensive method of sanitizing pools. UV has its place, as well as salt chlorine generators. … Salt chlorine is not usually applicable in a high-use system. Regenerative media filters have had a huge impact on both water quality and sustainability.

We soon found ourselves talking about the most important factor when it comes to pools and waterparks – safety.

Safety continues to be the highest priority at waterparks, because when someone gets hurt the fun stops. The challenge is the inherent risks in aquatics. Recent laws (such as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act) exposed some serious deficiencies in the industry. Slip and fall injuries still continue to be the highest safety problem at any aquatic facility. Many facilities are designing with this in mind by installing softer and slip-resistant decking materials. One interesting trend, is the removal of diving boards at many of the existing facilities, and new facilities not even installing them to begin with during construction. At the same time, slides and rides are maturing in design and becoming more intrinsically safe through materials, finishes and refined geometric design. Large format flumes for three, four, five or even six riders are also safer with riders inside (instead of on top) of their vehicle.

Overall, we had a spectacular time talking to Rick about what we love, which is everything water! The piece was published in the September 2013 edition of Recreation Management Magazine and it is worth a read. Go check out the full article here.