A new pool season will rapidly be upon us, and around the country, hotels, property and city managers are being challenged by budget cuts and the need to prepare public pool facilities. Preventive maintenance and inspections are not optional for pool safety. A poorly maintained pool presents public health risks in addition to abnormal maintenance, repair, and operational costs. Consider the following example about the leaking pools around the city of Indianapolis.

“It costs taxpayers $87,000 to fill 15 outdoor pools at the start of each summer, but an additional $387,000 — over 4 times the initial amount — is required to replace water that leaks out due to maintenance problems.”

Source: About.com

Clearly, making the initial investment in pool maintenance would have been a smarter decision. The problem occurs when preventive maintenance/minor repairs are not considered to be a high priority. Funds are typically utilized to address emergency situations, such as leaky roofs or dangerous equipment failures. As a result, the city facility managers must wait for an emergency to occur before action can be taken. In the above example, city officials in Indianapolis could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by performing preventive maintenance which is more than enough to fix the pools, address compliance issues, keep park staff and implement an EAM.

Why Implement an EAM

Public pool maintenance requires far more attention than the care of private pools. Many states regulate and inspect public pools for health risks following international guidelines published by WHO including standards for minimizing microbial and chemical hazards. In addition, The CDC also provides information on pool sanitation and water related illnesses for health professionals and the public. As a result, complying with safety standards for public pools requires that equipment for filtration/circulation, sanitizing, probing, and water testing be kept in good working order and inspected constantly.

Other compliance issues also must be handled. Each public pool must now comply with 121 STAT. 1794 PUBLIC LAW 110–140, better known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Signed into law on DEC. 19, 2007, the law requires that public pools must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices and single drain pools must have at least one additional level of entrapment protection.

Maintaining pools are just a part of a city facilities manager’s responsibilities. Roofs, pavilions, picnic areas, outdoor furniture as well as the entire inventory of parts need to be managed effectively. An Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system has the ability to track assets, repair history, inspection results and schedule work orders. By using this type of computerized system, maintenance operations can drastically reduce the cost for reactive repairs. Other benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Accurate forecasting of useful lifecycle. By tracking the repair frequency and costs, an EAM can project the point in time when replacement will be cheaper than ongoing repair.
  • Better inventory control. Setting up the asset detail provides for a detailed record of part inventory including where the parts are and how often they are needed. This will lower your carrying costs as inventory levels are minimized based upon what you truly need.
  • Lower liability due to pool health and safety issues. From parasitic infections to anti-entrapment devices, no city, park or apartment pool wants to be shut down by the health department or fined for lack of compliance. Failure to monitor or maintain equipment in working order only increases liability.

Pool maintenance is a prime example of what can go wrong when preventive maintenance is pushed aside as a result of budgetary constraints. Repairing equipment only when it breaks down is almost always going to be more expensive than preventive maintenance and inspections. It is time to start using the emergency funds to prevent emergencies or wasteful loss like what is occurring in Indianapolis.

Share your thoughts with us. Where do you see shameful examples of waste when a little preventive maintenance could save a fortune?