The Importance of The Center for Public and Lodging Pool Study

The Center for Public and Lodging Pool Study (CPLPS) is the outgrowth of more than four decades of public and community advocacy and activism by Founder and Director, Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D. Over the last 15 years, he has served as a consultant for several major manufacturers of pool and spa robotic cleaners and battery-powered, handheld residential and commercial pool vacuums.

Richard is the author of several short books on the Aquatic Industry, including The History of Pool Cleaners, Lodging Pools 101, Public Pools 101, School Pools 101.History of Pool Cleaners cover pic

Along with the NSPF and CDC there numerous other non-profit, educational and charitable organizations which aim to improve public aquatic health, including the International Sanitation Foundation (ISF), Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) Foundation for Pool and Spa Industry Education, National Environmental Health Association, National Parks and Recreation Association and a horde of other governmental and quasi-governmental and private organizations. All play vital roles in aquatic safety.

Then why the need for another organization? The Center for Public and Lodging Pool Study (CPLPS) is in fact unique and is currently and will continue as it develops to serve a purpose that all of the other organizations combined do not. Its main target and mission is to improve the cleaning, brushing, vacuuming and filtering of aquatic facilities; a vital, yet largely overlooked, aspect of all phases of aquatic facility responsibility.

The CPLPS is located in one of the world’s leading educational centers, Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton is the home of Princeton University which U.S. News & World Report rates as the country’s greatest national university along with Harvard. Princeton is home to The Institute For Advanced Learning where Albert Einstein spent the last 23 years of his life studying and teaching. New Jersey is the home of four of the five leading manufacturers of robotic swimming pool cleaners and the only battery-powered commercial and residential pool vacuums. From this vantage point, in the heart of the Northeast corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., the organization is strategically-positioned to develop into what it envisions as the nation’s leading educational and training center for proper methods of cleaning aquatic facilities, not with antiquated methods, but with state-of-the-art, state-of-the-science equipment and to lobby strongly for rational and necessary aquatic cleaning regulations.

The CPLPS offers professional education, training and consultation in all aspects of using the state-of-the-art, state-of-the-science methods in properly cleaning aquatic facilities. Through our industry contact s, including the leading manufacturers of cleaning equipment we are able to identify and even promote new methods and equipment that we will offer our clients.

The Center will from time-to-time publish reports and other white papers as well as other published works to further our mission and educate the public and our client base.

Research The Center having access to many of the great American libraries at Harvard University, the Library of Congress and many others in and around Princeton, New Jersey and New York City will delve into studying the latest methods and technologies in the vital area of aquatic cleaning. Two of its clients which invented and/or pioneered computerized robotic pool cleaners and alternative energy pool and spa vacuums have opened up their files and made available their scientists, design engineers and laboratories to help develop the safest, environmentally-responsible and economically-feasible cleaning machines.

Training and Education The Center’s staff possesses possibly the largest number of professional certifications offered by the major government-authorized licensing agencies pertaining to aquatic operation and management. These include:

  • Certified Pool & Spa Technician by The Aquatic Training Institution in the study of commercial and public pools
  • Certified Pool & Spa Inspector, National Swimming Pool Foundation
  • Certified Aqua Energy Auditor, National Swimming Pool Foundation
  • Certified Pool Operator (CPO), National Swimming Pool Foundation
  • Certified Instructor, National Swimming Pool Foundation
  • Certified Maintenance Specialist, Association of Pool and Spa Professionals
  • Certified Service Technician, Association of Pool and Spa Professionals
  • Certified Service Professional, Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (Summer ’12)
  • Certified Aquatic Facility Operator, National Parks and Recreation Association

At both its own facilities and more importantly those of its clients in all fifty states, the CPLPS will offer certification and other training courses and classes offered by both the NSPF and APSP, the international trade association of pool and spa professions. For those that retain the Center to manage its facilities or consult with its existing operators, many of these training courses will be totally cost-free or at worst require only a nominal fee for course materials.

CPS performs Hotel Evaluation of Pool Cleaners

We are currently performing a study in the United States and Canada to evaluate the manner in which the swimming pools of the most elite hotels and resorts are maintained.  The information compiled will be reported to the National Swimming Pool Foundation in attempts to assist various manufactories of robotic pool cleaners and handheld, cordless vacuums further improve upon today’s cutting edge technology in pool cleaning.

Several manufacturers have supplied us with their flagship products as part of our evaluation program in return for valuable feedback. To begin our research, we contacted all Grand hotels and resorts that have at least one swimming pool in the United States and Canada. We extended them invitations to utilize one high end robotic pool cleaner and one handheld commercial pool vacuum.   Frontenac pool radisson-blu-poolsWe were fortunate to have many responses from Fitness Center Managers to Engineering Directors to Maintenance personnel from elite hotels and resorts such as The Fairmont, The Four Seasons and Radisson.

Any who agreed to assist in our efforts were sent a robotic cleaner and handheld vacuum to use and evaluate for up to six months, free of charge. At the end of this trial period, we will retrieve the machine from each facility; simple as that with no strings attached. Please be aware, we are not selling these machines and all communications with the Grand Hotels are strictly confidential. All that we asked in return was informal feedback as to the machine’s usage, benefits and practicality.

Robotic pool cleaner used for Evaluation

The Center for Public and Lodging Pool Study’s Executive Director, Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D. has personally visited every Grand Hotel, sometimes more than once, meeting personally with executives and engineers to discuss the quality and practicality of the cleaning units. Any experiencing difficulties were immediately sent a new cleaning unit no questions asked. Thus far, we have received invaluable feedback for the manufacturers whom have already implemented vital changes in the engineering, instruction manuals, ease of use and design of their pool cleaning vacuums.

Grand Hotels, Great Pools (Intro)

By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

Grand Hotels, Great Pools coverVirtually every grand hotel has a swimming pool, often an indoor and outdoor one, at least those which are not situated in a congested city which usually have just one indoors.

Like the faculty itself, these hotels that were built to attract a wealthy clientele usually had and still have a beautiful, indoor pool and deck of architectural significance. These and even the modern ultra luxury hotels have built beautiful swimming pools as major show pieces of their establishment. As the Victorian Age or Era concurrent with the reign of England’s Queen Victoria, (1819-1901) ended many of these grand hotels were built, often including a large, indoor pool.

Swimming pools have long been emblematic of the good life. From the time the first swimming pool was built, millenniums ago, they have been an accoutrement of the privileged. Only in the last century has the middle, and even lower classes of society had the privilege of owning or even using a swimming pool.

It thus makes senses when exploring the history of the hotel swimming pool that the first luxury hotels, the grand hotels included a swimming pool for its guests, many whom lived at the facilities for extended periods of time.

In the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry M. Flagler in 1888, now the centerpiece of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida and no longer a hotel per se, guests had to be invited to lodge there. To even be considered guests had to be listed on the Social Register, pay upwards of today’s equivalent of $1,000 a night, in cash, upfront and stay a minimum of six months. Of course it had a beautiful swimming pool.

Because hotel pools represent the zenith of swimming pool design, they set the standard that all pools owners and operators are often guided by. Many are million dollar showpieces of multi-million dollar facilities and set the tone by which the entire facility is judged. And even though many are used sparingly by their guests, they are considered virtual necessities from a marketing standpoint. A hotel with a beautiful pool sets the standard for the entire operation. They are meant to impress and they certainly do!

King Ludwig's Castle in Bavaria
Swimming pool at King Ludwig’s Castle in Bavaria


Other Major Health Benefits to Regulations Requiring Pool Cleaners & Vacuums

By: Richard K. Cacioppo Sr., J.D.

An improperly cleaned pool allows dangerous contaminants to remain in the water after it passes through any sand pool filter. The majority of public swimming pools use a combination of high rate sand filters and manual brushing and vacuuming to clean a pool. These sand filters are less expensive than a DE Pool filter to purchase, to maintain, to repair and to operate. As stated above, they can only remove debris larger than the human eye can see, 20-50 microns. On the other hand most dangerous pathogens and bacteria and unsightly algae is far smaller, the majority probably between 2 and 20 microns in particle size. The pool operator relies solely on sanitation to break down and remove these smaller contaminants, as all filter systems unless they are diatomaceous earth (DE) filters which can filter out particles as small as 2-4 microns simply are inadequate.

There are several problems with this:

  • Most of the day, the pool is not properly maintained. Other than pools with state-of-the-art automatic controllers that monitor and can correct water imbalance, sanitation, lights, pumps, heaters, modes (between spas and pools) and valve actuators, even the most responsible pool operators monitor proper sanitation a few times per day. A pool that is used during the summer time, when use of the pool and bather loads are at its maximum, operates at least 12 hours, and sometimes 24 hours a day. In between the sanitation checks and corrective measures, the user is exposed to whatever is floating in the water or attached to the pools walls, steps, floors, cracks, crevices and corners;
  • Filter Systems do not clean the entire pool. They primarily draw water from the surface and floor of the pool;
  • Filter Systems do not brush and vacuum a pool. The walls, steps, floor and hard-to-reach areas of the pool must be continuously brushed to release contaminants into the water, where dirt, leaves, and even microscopic debris are then sucked into the skimmers or after settling to the pool floor, into the bottom drains almost always in the deepest end of the pool;
  • Manual Brushing is inadequate. It is virtually; if not literally impossible to regularly brush the entire surface of the walls, floor and other areas of the pool where the debris sticks manually, there is simply too much area. But even if it was possible, workers are limited to what they can see, and few, if any, will take the time to clean what appears to be a dirt-free portion of a pool wall or floor.

Simply put, a public or any other pool that does not have a DE filter or is not cleaned with a robotic cleaner with a micro filter exposes every user to dangerous contaminants.

The NSPF, the world leader in training and certifying operators recommends that every commercial pool be operated and maintained by a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Today all commercial or public pools (those open or accessible to the public) are required by 26 states to be cleaned and maintained by a certified operator or service technician. It is a wonder the other 24 states are so lax not to adopt the same requirements. Those that have adopted pool codes, sometimes in the form of health and safety codes and regulations, including the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) being developed by the Center For Disease Control intended to have enacted into law a national standard, include many aspects of aquatic health and safety. They cover structural, electric, management, sanitation, risk plan management and recirculation and filtering systems. The main focus of the CLPS and this work is on none of these other than the inadequacies of the regulations relating to recirculation and filtering, but the all-important, equally if not more important aspect of proper cleaning of a pool or spa.

Few individuals responsible for cleaning a pool, particularly a public pool are properly trained in state- of-the-art, state-of-the-science pool cleaning equipment or techniques. Most are unaware of the most up-to-date equipment. These individuals are supervised and regulated only by their managers, who for the most part do not themselves possess the education and skills to properly clean a pool on their facilities. Even most certified pool operators, regardless of the level of certification possess this expertise. The NSPF has two levels, a Certified Pool Operator (CPO) and a Certified CPO Instructor. The APSP has three levels, a Certified Pool Maintenance Specialist, a Certified Pool Service Technician and a Certified Pool Service Professional, the latter the highest classification by any sanctioning organization. To achieve any of these certifications does not require much knowledge of how to clean a pool, other than an almost incidental mention in their training materials, including the APSP’s 461-page Service Tech Manual that is used for all of its certification levels. The latter devotes less than a ¼ page to robotic pool cleaners, focusing only on their electrical specifications. Nowhere in this entire manual is there any mention of porosity, (the size of the holes in a filter that debris can pass through).

As stated above, appearance is vitally important to a public pool. Owners and operators sometimes spend millions of dollars on designing them (many larger resorts have numerous pools and spas) La Quinta Resort and Club in Palm Springs, California at last count, 42 pools and 54 hot spas. In order to maintain their appearance requires continuous brushing and regular vacuuming. Probably more than any other swimming pool in general, a school pool must not only look, but be crystal clear and free of all dirt and debris. Anything less reflects poorly on the entire quinta 2 la quinta 3 la quinta

Manual Brushing and Vacuuming Is Utterly Inefficient and Ineffective … And Inexcusably Expensive

A research study by the CPS has concluded that an overwhelming percentage of all public pools in general and as high as over 99% of all lodging pools are manually brushed and vacuumed. Before even considering the effectiveness of a filter system that is discussed above, it is indisputable that a pool must be brushed and vacuumed. The states with the detailed regulations clearly require the removal of dirt and debris from the pool floor, the reason why they also require separate pool vacuums be kept near the pool that are either self-sufficient or operate in conjunction with the main pool pump and filter.

A pool, particularly an outdoor pool is subject to the elements. Ever sit by a window with beams of sunlight shining through. One can then see that the air is full of dust and particles. Wind not only is the main cause of evaporation but carries dirt, dust and anything that is not tied down into the atmosphere and on the ground that it passes over before what it contains settles in a pool.

Particles attract to each other by a process generally called adhesion. Entire particles and the molecules within them are attracted to each other through cohesion bond. The same process works in these small particles in the air as they descend toward a pool, which in the warmer climates of the west are also drawn to the cooler water in a pool. As they fall into the pool, a portion of them adhere to the pool walls. Those that actually reach the water attach to the subsurface walls, steps, floors, in cracks, crevices or corners. Concrete, Gunite and other hard-surfaced pools wear out and are scratched over time, creating mini cracks which debris, included germs and other dangerous particles get trapped in. Surface tension creates an invisible barrier that holds them in place.

People themselves, (bather-load) deposit more contaminants to the pool. It is on their bodies, and since most bathers and swimmers obviously enter the pool barefoot, the oils in their skin also cause adhesion with everything they walk over, such as decks and the ground outside of the deck, which then also attach to these surfaces. As a result all this debris, some of it algae and much of it microscopic, cling to all surfaces above and below the water and can only be removed by consistent and thorough brushing, which is rarely if ever done.

It will remain in place until it is brushed and gravity then draws it into the water. Below the water the debris brushed from the walls and steps eventually settles on the pool floor and on the walls.

Skimmers obviously draw a high portion of the surface debris, but a much lower percentage of that below the surface. Much, but not all of the debris winds up on the surfaces of the pool below the water, with the greatest concentration on the floor. The same adhesion principal applies to the debris that clings to the floor, requiring more brushing into the main drain.

At best only a portion of all of this debris is suspended in a compact area in the water as it floats in all directions. The point of suction of the surface skimmers and below surface main drains is usually only within a short distance from the points the filtered water returns to be the pool, but as water is drawn into the skimmers and drains, it creates a vacuum that water molecules above and behind it fill, and a flow is created. Of course since the water is suctioned into the filter system through the skimmers on the top of the water and main drains on the bottom, it is unlikely that the water in between is filtered as often, meaning suspended particles, especially microscopic ones that include dangerous pathogens, remain exposed to the bathers and swimmers. Skimmers process

Water is usually drawn into the filter system from skimmers near the surface and main drains in the floor.  A vacuum is created when the pump is turned on, creating a void that the closest water is drawn into. If the average depth of a public pool is 7.5’ the chances of the water being drawn from anywhere near the center of the pool is far less.

Power-driven vacuums with rotating brushes are necessary in order to remove the debris that sticks to the walls, steps and floors, especially the more stubborn debris. The longer this debris is on the surfaces, the more difficult it gets to remove, and the only alternative may be to use a lot of elbow grease and a wire brush to scrub it off.

Much like sweeping a floor inside the house with a broom, it will only gather up larger debris, requiring the use of vacuum cleaners to capture the rest. There is this same need in a pool. Attaching a vacuum head with a long hose to a dedicated suction port on a pool wall or somewhere else near the filter system is almost never done during the daytime, and many facilities do not even vacuum a pool on a daily basis. So, again the time when there is most bather load is the time when the pool is almost never vacuumed. The only practical commercial automatic pool cleaners on the market are electric robotic machines. Yet, research and studies have shown that as few as 1% of all lodging pools are cleaned with a robotic pool cleaner. This means that they are cleaned and vacuumed manually, which is ineffective and very time-consuming. As mentioned above, the human eye is unable to see anything smaller than two microns. But even if some Superhuman with extraordinary vision could be found, he would have to move at supersonic speed to thoroughly brush and then vacuum an entire pool, not only once but over and over again.

Many educational institutions have large pools, at least as big as the so-called Junior Olympic Pool, usually 75’ X 25’. Some with more advanced competitive programs have larger ones, as long as 162’ (54 years, 50 meters) to as much as 328’ (109 yard, 100 meters long, width determined by the number of swimming lanes. The Junior Olympic size pool would have approximately 1845 square feet floor surface and another 1,500 sq. ft. of wall surface if the average depth was 7.5 feet. Thus the entire pool having to be brushed just once would be 3,345 square feet of surface, not counting steps, swim-outs, ledges, etc. If this was a flat square surface it would be the equivalent of a square room about 57’ X 57’. To brush and vacuum even a flat surface using a brush and small vacuum head would obviously take quite a while, especially if the floor was porous as are all school pools, and even more difficult if the debris clung to it, also the case with a school pool. On top of that if the floor was under water, the task would be far more arduous. And finally, if 35% of the surface was vertical it would be ever more difficult. Add to this the time it takes to clean the difficult-to-reach areas of the pool and just how time-consuming it will be, is obvious.

Brushing and periodic vacuuming is required by law in many states, but with minimum specifics. But, law or no law, adequate and continuous brushing of a school pool, numerous times during a day, encompasses hours and hours of manpower. In order to properly and safely clean even a modest-sized school pool, it is impossible to rely solely on manual brushing and vacuuming. In addition, to do so is dangerous. Not for what is removes, but for what it misses. We live in a modern, technologically- advanced society where today virtually everything is automated, and such automation is universal in most industries with most products. We no longer dial telephones that are connected by wires to a wall. We do not stand up and walk over to a television to change the few channels that were available only a generation ago. We are not even reading many books the old fashioned way. Yes, everything is automated and universally-accepted.., except in the swimming pool and spa industry.

Let’s say that we are dealing with a very small school pool, perhaps the kind one sees in a small motel, but one that is subject to constant use by guests, and must be scrupulously maintained. Assume that the operator hires someone at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to make sure that throughout the day, as the atmosphere and bather load contaminates the pool, the pool is continuously brushed, including the floor, steps and occasionally the walls unless the pool is covered during the evening, not a usual occurrence in the summertime, the pool will continue to gather dirt and dust throughout the night, albeit at a lesser pace than during the daytime. So even if the pool is continuously brushed and occasionally vacuumed for 10 hours a day, the other 14 hours it will just get dirtier and dirtier.

Regardless, there are no regulations that require the details of brushing, and few that require vacuuming. Those that do require vacuuming are ambiguous without any specificity. Brushing and most vacuuming throughout the day under the directives and directions of a pool operator are aesthetic and thus economically-motivated to create the perception and appearance that the pool is clean. However, remembering that the human eye is unable to see any particles less than 20 microns and those most dangerous contaminants are far smaller, this perception is obviously wrong.

Depending on the design and size of a pool, its geographic location on the facilities property and the facility’s own geographic location, along with pool operator preferences and standards, the number of brushings and vacuuming and the manpower needed on a daily basis vary widely. It is obvious that some school pool operators elect to have their pools brushed and even vacuumed throughout the day, and in some cases this requires several employees to be working simultaneously, depending on the all factors. But in our example, it is only brushed over a period of ten hours in a day. The worker is paid $72.50 for his day’s work, and there is no weekend respite, so the cost to the operator or owner is $507.50 a week, or $26,390 a year.

The largest hotel management company is reportedly Interstate Hotels and Resorts with over 300 managed properties, but that pales in comparison to InterContinental Hotels and Resorts which own as many as 4,500 properties. Using a robotic pool cleaner will not only remove far more contaminants than will the combination of manually brushing a pool and then simply letting the main filter system filter out the debris, but most of the contaminants the system is incapable of removing from the pool. Again, most school pools use high rate sand filters which have a range of a filtering ability of 20 to 50 microns. In other words, the very best of them which can filter out debris and contaminants of 20 microns are incapable of filtering any particle smaller than 20 microns, the limit of which the human eye can see OK (or brush from) a pool. Smaller debris, such as bacteria, algae and cryptosporidium can never be removed in the traditional manner. However, a robotic pool cleaner will brush a pool ten times faster than can be accomplished manually and remove debris as small as 2 microns, meaning it will remove the majority of these RWD pathogens.

If the average InterContinental hotel employs only one individual to brush its pool, and that person is paid the federal minimum hourly wage rate of $7.25, and works only 10 hours a day, the cost would be $72.50 per day for every day of the year, or $26,390 annually. If every one of its hotels also employed such an employee, the cost would be an incredible $118,755,000 a year. Considering the use of a robotic pool cleaner totally eliminates manual brushing and will brush and vacuum the entire pool and remove debris that the filter is incapable of at the same time, it would be an interesting argument to make to the company that anything else makes sense.

Both A Robotic Cleaner and Handheld, Extended Reach Vacuum Are Needed! Since both Cryptosporidium and other pathogens are negatively charged, as are the surfaces of pool, they concentrate primarily in the water. However, many contaminants can also attach or cling to the walls, in and above the water surface, the floors, on, in and around ladders, steps and stairs and in tiny cracks and crevices. Here also can lurk the deadly Cryptosporidium…

to be continued…




Part III – Dangers of Failure to Include the Proposed Regulations

By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

With due respect, frankly probably not earned, the swimming pool industry and those responsible for the general health of the public have been highly remiss, If not outright negligent in rubber stamping (at best) antiquated information. As shown above, even the American Public Health Associations intended yeoman effort begun 100 years ago to respond to the need to target pool hygiene has failed miserably. The periodic reports its committee on bathing places drafted and published more often than not simply cut and paste earlier reports, some created and published more than a half century earlier. The Gage and Bidwell Laws of Dilution are typical examples of not only unsubstantiated and unsupported scientific data being simply passed on from generation to generation. In this writer’s short book entitled The History of Pool Cleaners, the primary source material came from a detailed patent search going back to the formation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1790.

In conducting research for this writer’s upcoming Filtration and Circulation book, it was discovered that before 1926, when the Gage of Bidwell laws were allegedly discovered, there were only a handful of U.S.  patents issued for pool filters and pumps, and thousands thereafter. Obviously, in the 86 years since these laws were discovered technology advanced exponentially. How could the power of filter pumps in 1926 be relevant to the circulation of pool water in 2012? It is akin to testing a 20 HP 1926 Ford Model T to evaluate current automobile performances on a test track.

As mentioned above, the MAHC was conceived after the CDC held a workshop to target the growing threat of Cryptosporidium outbreaks. Yet if there are not more stringent rules for the porosity of high speed sand filters the code will be impotent to help prevent the disease by removing Crypto oocyst from the water.

It is a given that traditional disinfectants, namely chlorine are virtually ineffective in penetrating the walls of the oocyst which is so impenetrable that it can survive for hours in sulfuric acid. The 1926 report referenced above stated point blank that “the only satisfactory method of removing the dirt, hair, etc., settling on the bottom of a pool is by means of a suction cleaner.” There is uniform agreement among those in the know that it is absolutely essential to vacuum a swimming pool. Other than obvious aesthetic reasons, common sense explains the need to remove dirt, algae, hair and other unsightly and germ generating contaminants.

Traditional Methods of Removing Cryptosporidium

It is well established in the scientific community that since Cryptosporidium is technically a particle, and one with such an almost impenetrable outer wall, it can only be removed by filtration. However according to a published report by the committee chairperson, Dr. James E. Amburgey, traditional filters are highly inefficient, at least high-rate sand filters which he states constitute the majority of filter types in public pools.

In Are Swimming Pool Filters really removing Cryptosporidium?James E. Amburgey:

“Cryptosporidium is chlorine-resistant protozoan parasite that causes the majority of waterborne disease outbreaks in swimming pools in the U.S. Recent research has shown that free chlorine can take more than 10 days to inactivate 99.9% of Cryptosporidium oocysts (Ct=15,300 mg/L*min) at pH 7.5 with 1 mg/L of free chlorine, but a lot of people can swim in a pool during that 10-day period. Sand filters are commonly used as secondary barriers to Cryptosporidium in U.S. pools, but sand filters alone typically only remove about 25% of oocysts per passage through the filter.

Prior research has shown that sand filters can remove greater than 99% of oocysts per passage when a coagulant is added prior to filtration, but the results did not scale up to spa-scale or full-scale experiments. Poly-aluminum chloride and cationic polymers were shown to remove greater than 99% of Cryptosporidium-sized microspheres with filtration rates of up to 24 m/h and sand bed depths of 600 mm. Bed depth appeared to be more important than filtration rate in increasing particle removal.”

Based on the slow kinetics of chlorine inactivation of Cryptosporidium, the known inefficiency of sand filter to remove oocysts, and the recent incidence of cryptosporidiosis in the U.S., additional measures appear necessary to effectively safeguard public health. Previous research has shown that sand filters can remove greater than 99% of oocysts per passage through the filter when a coagulant is added prior to filtration in lab-scale filtration systems, but the removals in full-scale trials with coagulation were only slightly higher than 25% (Amburgey et al., 2007). In later experiments, the removals in a spa-scale sand filtration system with coagulant addition only averaged 61% (Amburgey et al., 2009a).”

In Efficiency of sand filtration for removing cryptosporidium oocysts from water. P.A. Chapman and Barbara A. Rush, the authors concluded:

“Cryptosporidium oocysts have been detected in water which has been adequately treated to remove bacterial and viral pathogens, and some workers have doubted the ability of sand filtration to remove oocysts effectively. Cryptosporidium oocysts are resistant to many disinfectants, including chlorine at the level adopted because it is effective against bacterial and viral pathogens that may be present in drinking water. Therefore prevention of waterborne spread of Cryptosporidium relies on satisfactory filtration; However, assuming 100% efficiency of filtration and perfect circulation of water within a swimming pool, as many as 10 pool-turnover periods (the time taken to circulate one pool volume through the water treatment system) may be necessary to remove almost all particulate matter. While chlorination remains the generally preferred method of chemical disinfection, the risk of swimming-pool-associated Cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis can be reduced only by adequate filtration and short turnover periods for the pool water. “

In Removal of Cryptosporidium and polystyrene microspheres from swimming pool water with sand, cartridge, and pre-coat filters, Dr. Amburgey and his team (Kimberly J. Walsh, Roy R. Fielding and Michael J. Arrowood) reported:

Cryptosporidium has caused the majority of waterborne disease outbreaks in treated recreational water venues in the USA for many years running. However, sand and cartridge filters had average Cryptosporidium removals of 0.19 log (36%) or less. The combined low filter removal efficiencies of sand and cartridge filters along with the chlorine-resistant properties of Cryptosporidium oocysts could indicate a regulatory gap warranting further attention and having significant implications on the protection of public health in recreational water facilities.” “Pool filters are commonly designed to keep swimming pools looking clear and pleasing to the eye (i.e., turbidity removal), which is not the same as for effective pathogen removal. The US swimming pool industry has traditionally relied on disinfectants, such as free chlorine, to control the spread of waterborne diseases. However, chlorine is inefficient at inactivating Cryptosporidium, so the burden of microbial safety falls on filtration. The drinking water industry also relied heavily on chlorine until chlorine-resistant pathogens forced changes in the 1980s (for Giardia) and the 1990s and beyond (for Cryptosporidium). These chlorine-resistant pathogens forced the drinking water industry to put considerable regulatory emphasis on filtration optimization to achieve physical removal of these pathogens. US drinking water regulations have become increasingly stringent on pathogen removal in recent years in order to safeguard public health. The swimming pool industry could be forced to take the same approach. Constantly optimizing coagulation and closely monitoring filtered water turbidity might not be the most practical approach for the majority of US swimming pools. The coagulation conditions are mostly poor in pool filter arrangements and flocculation time too short. Therefore the flocs do not have time to form and the particles are neither neutral nor large enough to filter well.” Swansea University, infra.

Dr. Amburgey in the article above also questioned if coagulation and flocculation will significantly solve the problem of sand filter inefficiency in removal of Crypto:

“Coagulation prior to sand filtration is one technique that warrants further study since it is required prior to sand filtration in drinking water treatment operations throughout the world as well as in the majority of European public swimming pool facilities. While there are no obvious barriers to coagulation prior to sand filtration, there is a significant lack of comprehensive data regarding the current filter design and operating practices in the USA. The size and depth of filter media, filter loading rates, and backwashing practices are known to have significant impacts on filter performance, but accurate values for these parameters are not currently available to regulators, researchers, and pool designers. Or even filter manufacturers.”

In another article credited to Dr. Amburgey, “Rapid sand” filter would provide safe drinking water to millions in developing countries” Saturday, March 7, 2009, he reported he has developed a chemical pretreatment scheme based on ferric chloride and a pH buffer that is added to the water.

“In its natural state, Cryptosporidium is negatively charged, as are sand grains, so they repel one another.”

In Removal of Cryptosporidium and polystyrene microspheres from swimming pool water with sand, cartridge, and precoat filters, James E. Amburgey, it was reported:

“sand and cartridge filters had average Cryptosporidium removals of 0.19 log (36%) or less.” Unlike sand filters, DE filters rely dominantly on the size exclusion principle to prevent pathogens from passing through the tiny pores in the DE media. This is why sand filter media depths are a minimum of 0.25 m (and commonly called ‘depth filters’) while DE media depths are only 1.6–3.2 mm because they are ‘surface filters’. When a coagulant is used, it is often in response to a real or perceived water quality problem. Coagulant usage guidelines are not well-established, and the directions on the bottle tend to be vague about the manner of application and frequency of use. While the ingredients and formulation information are proprietary, the primary active ingredient is a cationic polymer.”

The CDC’s 2005 workshop and the fact that 12 years later and 5 after it began efforts to create the MAHA, demonstrates that this country may have been and still is behind the 8-ball in taking the Cryptosporidium problem serious enough.

Efforts in Australia & United Kingdom have been ongoing for years on the issue.

Swansea University, a university located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom published a study Optimization of pool water filtration for Cryptosporidium oocyst removal and new research from Swansea University concluded:

“Ozone, chlorine dioxide and UV may be effective for inactivating oocysts but different methods of judging inactivation give different results. Origin in swimming pools most commonly due to fecal incidents: 100g feces can contain 108 to109 oocysts.”

And provided this analysis: “Attachment/Detachment mechanisms Attachment Natural particles (including oocysts) and sand surfaces have a negative charge and therefore repel. Neutralize or turn into attraction by coating particles and sand surface with positively charged coagulants.


Viscous shear of the water passing through the filter.

Water velocity increases as the filter blocks and the voids between the sand grains become smaller. Rapid changes in flow rate increase the effect.”

They too question the effectiveness of coagulation:

“The coagulation conditions are mostly poor in pool filter arrangements and flocculation time too short. Therefore the flocs do not have time to form and the particles are neither neutral nor large enough to filter well.”

Sand filter pore size



Their report included this chart that demonstrates some of the problems with sand filtration




Alternative methods of filtration are necessary IF the technology exists…and it DOES!


Recently in Florida, another health and safety issue arose because a newly discovered hazard caused by not an uncovered main drain, but the openings of the vac port as reported in Pool & Spa News, the industry’s bible (Florida Code May ‘Create Hazards,’ Erin Ansley, July 19, 2012):

“Currently, sections .64E-9.007(8) and (12) of the decades-old state code, 64E-9 Public Swimming Pools and Bathing Places, read: “The filter and vacuuming system shall have the necessary valves and piping to allow filtering to pool, vacuuming to waste, vacuuming to filter. … A portable or plumbed in vacuum cleaning system shall be provided. … Recirculation or separate vacuum pumps shall not be used for vacuuming purposes when used in excess of 3 horsepower.”


The root problem with this mandate is that it requires a “known hazard,” particularly in pools where there are no lifeguards on duty or scheduled inspections by the operator, Barnes said. According to the code, the opening of the vac port is supposed to be sealed by a self-closing, self-latching cover.

However, the cover reduces the size of the opening in the wall, and a commercial-sized vacuum hose doesn’t fit. As a result, the service technician or the individual cleaning the pool has to remove the fitting to attach the hose and then replace the fitting when he or she is finished vacuuming. However, the fitting isn’t always put back on — in fact; it’s not unusual for an operator to leave them off completely.


It was reported that Steve Barnes, chairman of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Technical Committee, and safety and compliance manager at Pentair Aquatic Systems, stated:

“We see these ports missing covers all over Florida,” Barnes said. “Under code, the pools are supposed to be vacuumed every day if it needs it, and it’s a pain in the neck to undo the set screw that locks it in place.”


Others have urged policy makers and health code enforcers to utilize the latest technology available. A major technology in fact technology in fact is the use of robotic swimming pools cleaners and handheld micro filtering vacuums which this writer has reported in his work on the History of Pool Cleaners has been around for just about 50 years (robotic cleaners) and 10 years (handheld vacs) respectively.

Uncovered vac ports may not be considered a major health and safety problem, but certainly is another of the many that require stringent regulations for the use of modern pool cleaning methodology and machinery.


The Myth of the Effectiveness of a Pool’s Filter System

BY: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

Even the most cursory training instructions and least in-depth service technician/operator certification programs emphasize the importance of proper filtration. Local and state pool codes include a glut of regulations about filtration requirements. Along with sanitation, user, structural and electrical safety requirements, circulation and filtration are of key focus. As explained above, the great majority of all public pools use high rate sand filters, with a porosity (the size of the openings that water will go through; larger particles are filtered) of 20 to 50 microns.

As the chart below demonstrates, the overwhelming number of dangerous contaminants and unsightly debris such as fine sand, silt, algae and bacteria are well below 20 microns in size. The majority of these pathogens (disease-causing organisms) are between 2 and 20 microns. For example, the single most- focused recreational water disease-causing pathogens focused on by the NSPF, and the CDC are Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which according to Duke University’s Cruising Chemistry educational module, are 3-4 and 5-6 microns in diameter respectfully. E.coli, arguably the most generally known and feared pathogen found in pools, and along with that which causes Legionnaire’s Disease, the only more prevalent one that has fatal consequences, is estimated to be 2 microns in length according to an article published by the American Ground Water Trust in the American Well Owner, 2002, Number 2.

While some of the most common pool contaminants such as viruses are below 2 microns, the majority can be filtered out with a filter that has porosity smaller than 20 microns, such as diatomaceous earth (DE) filters or most high-end robotic cleaners and some handheld-battery-powered pool and spa vacuums. But no regulation mandates there use.

Sanitation and oxidation will kill most of the pathogens, but their remnants still must be filtered out of the water. Here also lies a major misconception, namely that sanitizing a pool by adding disinfecting chemicals will remove the remnants of the killed pathogens. Overlooked is the fact circulating any chemical throughout the entire pool is a slow process that will take hours and hours in many

Instances. Those few code requirement that a pool cleaning system must have a vacuum available, and the ones that require brushing, another ambiguous, general regulation imply that this will be sufficient to rid the pool of dirt, debris and pathogens. That is but another misconception perpetuated or at least accepted.

The idea is that this debris on the walls, steps floors and everywhere else in a pool that static particles will adhere to, will be brushed into the water and then as it settles on the bottom be vacuumed into the filter system and be removed.

This means that brushing them from the pool surfaces and into the water, or those that naturally fall into the water will remain in the water after they flow through a sand filter. Therefore, despite all the precautions and strict regulations imposed by government authorities, pool codes which sometimes approach 50 pages in length, there are no requirements for pools to use vacuums or filters that will remove any dangerous debris. The only way to remove this debris is to install a DE filter or use a vacuum with a small porosity. DE Filters are very expensive to purchase, very expensive to maintain, difficult and require manpower to inspect and clean. So it is counter-productive to replace a high-rate commercial sand filter with a commercial DE filter, and cost is the reason. But, the failure to vacuum debris and contaminants smaller than 20 microns is dangerous, and often deadly. While much unsightly debris such as algae and fine sand and silt is clearly observable, it cannot be removed without a small porosity vacuum or filter system. At best, it goes in one end and out the other, right back into the pool.

Common Items and their respective Particle Sizes:

Eye of a Needle 1,230 microns Mold Spores 10 to 30 microns
Silt and Sand 2 to 2,000 microns Anthrax 1 to 5 microns
Human Hair 40 to 300 microns Bacteria .3 to 60 microns
Dust Mites 100-300 microns Algae .5 to 20 microns
Pollen 10-1000 microns Cryptosporidium 1 to 5 microns
Face Powder 1-300 microns E-Coli E-Coli
Tobacco Smoke 0.01 to 1 microns Typical Atmospheric Dust 0.001 to 30 microns
Coal Dust 1 to 100 microns Spider Web 2 to 3 microns

Some of the more detailed codes do require a vacuum cleaner be kept poolside, without specifying the details of the required machine. Pool vacuums are either simply vacuum heads that are attached to a suction port in the pool wall that allows the pump to create the suction, or so-called “automatic pool cleaners.” The latter are more prevalent in residential pools and come in three varieties, suction-side when connect to the influent side of the filter or pressure-side which connect to the effluent or return side. Neither is adequate for anything other than a tiny commercial pool. The third type is an electric robotic which is totally independent and can brush, vacuum, and some can scrub the water line and several b There are few if any established standards, much less regulations in regards to cleaning the pool. Manual vacuums and brushes are not regulated, and the industry manufacturing sales and use is dictated by the manufacturers. They periodically invent and offer new designs and materials used in brushes and vacuums that are not independent machines but actually vacuum heads that attach to and use the suction power and filtering abilities and capacities of the main filter and pump systems.

There being are no standards or regulations that dictate the minimum flow or porosity of the circulation and filtering system, and the most popular, type of pool filter is the high rate sand filter. Sand filtering was the first filtration method. It is by far the most economical. DE filtration is far more effective with porosities as low as 2 microns, ten times smaller than the best high rate sand filters, but cumbersome and arduous to use, inspect and clean and far more expensive to purchase and replace their parts. Cartridge filters, the preferred methods of filtering a spa are far more convenient, have smaller porosities than a sand filter, although larger than a DE filter, but very expensive and never used on a school pool.

The following comparison chart comparing functions, efficiencies and costs for a typical public pool, speaks volumes and eliminates any doubt what the options of cleaning a pool and removing physical contaminants larger than the molecular level that is left to sanitizers, along with what works and what does not.

Note: The following Electricity Costs per year are based on average sized models, a single moderate-sized pool, national average of approximately $10 KWh electricity cost, national average and single stage pumps.
Functions Manual Brushing and Vacuuming Main Pump and Filter System Using High Speed Sand Filers w/ 2HP Pump Suction Cleaners Largest Robotic Cleaners Handheld, Battery- Powered Vacuums
Ability To Remove Dangerous and Unsightly Debris and Contaminants between 2 and 20 microns NONE NONE NONE HIGH HIGH
Porosity None Directly but limited To Capacity of Filter 20-50 microns None Directly but limited To Capacity of Filter 2 microns 5-8 microns
Direct Filtering Ability NONE HIGH NONE HIGH HIGH
Brushing Ability For Visible Debris (over 20-40 microns) HIGH NONE NONE HIGH HIGH
Brushing Ability For Invisible Debris (2-20 microns) NONE NONE NONE HIGH HIGH(over 5 microns)
Ability To Clean Corners, Cracks and Crevices, Steps and In and Around Ladders LOW NONE NONE LOW- MODERATE HIGH
Vacuuming Ability of Surfaces (walls, floors, steps, etc.) NONE NONE NONE HIGH HIGH
Scrubbing of Water Line NONE NONE NONE MODERATE(For Walling- Climbing Models) MODERATEw/Attachment
Maintenance Requirement LOW HIGH HIGH LOW VERY LOW
Reduction or Elimination of Backwashing and Cleaning NONE NONE NONE HIGH MODERATE
Labor Cost per Year for each laborer HIGH MODERATE LOW NONE VERY OW
ESTIIMATED ANNUAL COSTS $28,000(Labor) $1,314(Electricity) $500(Electricity) $28.40(Electricity) $10.00 (Labor)

Part II – Need for Stricter & Increased Regulation for Cleaning Pools/Spas


The proposed MAHC is not the first attempt to propose a uniform aquatic health code. The credit for that goes to the American Public Health Association (APHA) which 100 years ago recognized the dangers of improperly-maintained aquatic facilities and formed a committee in 1918 to that for the next 66 years issued eleven so-called “Swimming Pools and Other Public Bathing Places Standards For Design, Construction, Equipment And Operation” recommended ordinances and regulations. But for a variety of reasons none of these recommendations were adopted, at least not formally or completely. The main one is that neither the APHA, the federal government nor any of the individual states have adequate power to enforce health and safety rules, nor the resources to do even if they had that power.

The APHA was founded in 1872 at a time when scientific advances were helping to reveal the causes of communicable diseases. These discoveries laid the foundation for the public health profession and for the infrastructure to support its work. From its inception, the APHA was dedicated to improving the health of all residents of the United States. The APHA’s founders recognized that two of the Association’s most important functions were advocacy for adoption by the government of the most current scientific advances relevant to public health, and public education on how to improve community health. Along with these efforts, APHA has also campaigned for the development of well- organized health departments at both the federal and the local level.  However it or for that matter  any and every private, quasi-public or even public agency has very limited powers, which are for all intense and purpose are restricted to just making recommendations. They can study health problems all they want to, but to formulate and execute plans in the form of laws, ordinances and regulations they have very limited and in some case no enforcement authority.

There has long been an ongoing problem since the country was born regarding what is referred to as “conflicts of laws.”   While the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it is not all- inclusive and there is always a battle between the federal government and the states as to who has the power to protect the people. So-called states’ rights are always an issue. This is particularly one of the reasons why no national or even uniform aquatic health code has ever been adopted, or at least enforced.

The right of states to make laws governing health, safety, welfare, and morals is derived from the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which states:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This is generally referred to as “police power,” which does not specifically refer to the power to create police forces. It has been held to authorize state legislative bodies to exercise their police power by enacting statutes, and also delegate much of this police power to counties, cities, towns, villages, and large boroughs within the state. The CDC estimates that there are over 3200 state and local health agencies responsible for adopting and enforcing ordinances and regulations relating to aquatic environments. They do so because the Constitution has no specific provisions relating to health and safety laws.

The APHA has tried to develop a uniform aquatic health code, or what it referred to for years as referenced above, “and published short reports annually from 1920 through 1925 that it simply referred to as “Report Of The Committee On Bathing Places.” and finally in 1926 it published in its journal its first comprehensive report it called “Standards For Design, Construction, Equipment And Operation for Swimming Pools And Other Public Bathing Places.”  Twelve others were published through 1981, however its lack of authority to enforce them is implied by the changing description of what was limited to their recommendations or suggestions and the expressed purposes in issuing them. In 1957, it referred to its report as “Recommended Practice for Design, Equipment and Operation of Swimming Pools and Other Public Bathing Places.” In the most comprehensive one since 1926 and until it stopped issuing them in 1981, it referred in 1964 to its report as “Suggested Ordinance and Regulations Covering Public Swimming Pools” and in 1970 one for “Private Swimming Pools.”  Its last report in 1981 was called “Public Swimming Pools: Recommended Regulations for Design and Construction, Operation and Maintenance.”

In 1926 appears the committee believed its standards would be adopted by the empowered jurisdictions, although who they were never mentioned in the report.

In 1964 the boldest move of all took place as it presented its recommendations in the form of proposed ordinances and regulations and in the Forward concluded:

“State and local governments who desire to enact this Suggested Ordinance and Regulations Covering Public Swimming Pools a useful resource.”

In 1912, ironically the same year when the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the first patent for a swimming pool cleaner, the Sanitary Engineering Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) convened in New York City to lay the groundwork for the first recommended pool and spa regulations. As reported in the American Journal of Public health in April 1912 a meeting was held in Havana the previous December and at the New York meeting among the subjects that the committee was to be studying was “Hygiene of swimming pools.”

Six years later, a committee on swimming pools was appointed at the APHA’s annual meeting in Chicago and in 1920 a similar committee was appointed at the meeting in Washington, D.C. In 1921 and periodically over the next seven decades until the work of the APHA on this subject matter was through a series of division and consolidation diverted elsewhere its committees and joint committees with other health-orientated public and quasi-public organizations issued proposed ordinances and regulations in the form of unenforceable recommendations. Despite their intended and published goals, none became the law of the land, uniform, much less national.

In 1921 the first report of the Committee of Sanitary Engineers followed an attempt “to obtain information as to the extent and prevalence of diseases which may be conveyed by means of bathing places from a large number of physicians whom we believe may be in a position to furnish information of value.” 2,000 copies of a questionnaire were sent out and replies came from 41 states and the territory of Hawaii. It noted that Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and California which was “the pioneer state in this work, having legislated on it during 1917.

None of the proposed Standards included more than a passing reference of the need to properly clean a pool. A few, but curiously not all of these recommended ordinances and regulations related to the use of a vacuum, although the first that included any specificity in 1923 at least required a certain level of clarity.

The 1921 report, barely a few pages in length made this reference to the need to clean the pool.

“Pool cleaning is done by completely emptying the pool an average of twice weekly and scrubbing with stiff brushes and soap. Hose flushing follows the scrubbing. After the flushing outlet is opened, the well turned on and clean water allowed to water over the floor of the drains, etc…”

It did not include any requirement for vacuuming or any other cleaning apparatuses.

1919 Popular Science Man cleaning pool manually

The 1923 report, slightly longer, but still very brief stated:

“Section 3. Clearness: At all times when the pool is in use the water shall be sufficiently clear to permit a black disk six inches in diameter on a white filed, placed on the bottom of the pool at the deepest point, to be clearly visible from both sides of the pool when the water is quiet.’

It further stated:

“No swimming pool shall be opened to the use of bathers on any day until all visible dirt (not stains) on the bottom of the pool and any visible scum or floating matter on the surface has been removed. Scum and floating matters may be infectious material and should always be removed as soon as possible after they are observed.

Therefore, in 1921 it was recognized that infectious material, namely pathogens collect in the pool and should be removed.

It was not until 1926 twelve years after the organization recognized the need to address swimming pool “hygiene” and eight years after the committee was organized that the first true report was issued and later published in the Journal of the American Public Health Association. This report, authored by Stephen DeM. Gage, its Chairman included the referenced Gage and Bidwell’s Laws of Dilution, or specifically as referenced in the report “law of purification by consecution dilution as applied to recirculation and flowing through pools.” It stated an abstract was in preparation, but there is no generally-known evidence it was ever completed. This principle is emblematic of the lack of attention and detail the swimming pool, and in fact the entire health care industry has always dealt with the acknowledged need to give attention to the aquatic health environment, shoddy and incomplete. Even today, 86 years later it is quoted, often misquoted and paraphrased even today although virtually all informed observers.

As will be demonstrated below these periodic recommendations were largely lost in the maze of bureaucratic red tape, politics and continuous battle for power between the states and the federal government. Of all of its reports from 1920 through 1981 the first major report by the APHA in 1926, written in narrative form as were the succeeding nine ones though 1957 the committee included the detailed provisions relating to pool cleaning, vacuuming and vacuums:

“E. Suction Cleaner: In the opinion of the committee the only satisfactory method of removing the dirt, hair, etc., settling on the bottom of a pool is by means of a suction cleaner. As such cleaners are commonly operated by the circulation pumps; they may be classed as an adjunct to the recirculation system. When a suction cleaner is to be operated by the recirculation pump, a gate with graduated stem or other registering device should be provided for throttling the flow from the pool outlet to permit the pump to operate at maximum efficiency when the suction cleaner is in use. Fixed pipe connections for attachment of suction cleaner to pump suction should be of ample size to reduce friction to a minimum

and the cleaner and all removable connections should be designed to provide a maximum velocity at the suction nozzle. “


“XXVI Cleaning Pool


  1. Visible dirt on the bottom of a swimming pool shall not be permitted to remain more than 24
  2. Any visible scum or floating material on the surface of a pool shat be removed within 24 hours by flushing or other effective means”



The periodic reports that followed simply cut and pasted the language of the 1926 report. In the 1957 report, the following language was included:

Suction Cleaner


In the opinion of the committee a satisfactory method of removing the dirt, hair, etc., settling on the bottom of a pool is by means of a suction cleaner. With careful operation a brush may also be used successfully although the committee recommends the provision of a suction cleaner. As suction cleaners are commonly operated by the circulation pumps, they may be classed as an adjunct to the recirculation system. When a suction cleaner is to be operated by the recirculation pump, a gate with graduated stem or other registering device should be provided for throttling the flow from the pool outlet to permit the pump to operate at maximum efficiency when the suction cleaner is in use. Fixed pipe connections at least 8 inches below the water surface for attachment of suction cleaner to pump suction should be of ample size to reduce friction to a minimum, and the cleaner and all removable connections should be designed to provide a maximum velocity at the suction nozzle. Some use of portable suction cleaners has been reported.”


This is almost shamefully lifted verbatim from the language of the 1926 report issued 31 years earlier in the author’s History of Pool Cleaning it is demonstrated that numerous patents were issued for swimming pool cleaners in that interim period and in fact in 1926 there were only two or three patents issued for pool cleaners. Thus the committee ignored any advanced in cleaning equipment technology.

In 1959 the committee decided not to use the narrative report form but concentrate upon the development of three model codes, one concerning public swimming pools, another covering private residential-type pools and a third involving nature bathing areas. It took five years when in 1964 the first report, that relating to public pools was issued, and six years later a very brief one was issued related to private residential pools.

The 1964 report by its own words was intended to be “prototype legislation applicable for use by both state and local governments establishing minimum standards for swimming pools.”   As mentioned above, it went on in its Forward to state his ordinance and these regulations, if enacted by a governmental jurisdiction, should serve to minimize the spread of infections, to reduce injuries

through elimination of hazards, and to promote public swimming pools as attractive and safe places for enjoyment, recreation, and physical fitness.

There does not seem to be any generally-known evidence that it ever got close to accomplishing its goal, except possibly in snippets by the country’s reputed 3200+ local and state health agencies.

The 1964 report included the following language:


“A vacuum-cleaning system shall be provided. When an integral part of the recirculation system, sufficient connections shall be located in the walls of the swimming pool, at least eight inches below the water line.


A vacuum-cleaning system shall be provided. When an integral part of the recirculation system, sufficient connections shall be located in the walls of the swimming pool, at least eight inches below the water line” and,


Cleaning Swimming Pools

Visible dirt on the bottom of the swimming pool shall be removed every 24 hours or more frequently as required. Visible scum or floating matter on the swimming pool surface shall be removed within 24 hours by flushing or other effective means.”



As stated above, in 1970 the committee issued another report, still labeling them as “desirable and necessary suggested legislation to provide a uniform basis for control of the design and construction private Residential Swimming Pools.” Perhaps with no basis in fact the committee excused this very short report by contending “The Joint Committee felt most government agencies do not have the authority to enforce operation and maintenance standards for private swimming pools and, of those that have the necessary legal power to do so, only a few have the resources to conduct programs of compliance.”  Given the above-referenced Police Powers Clause, namely the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution which the courts have interpreted as giving the states the authority to police safety, health, welfare, and morals of its citizenry, one can only wonder why the committee             came to such an unsubstantiated conclusion. In later years the enactment of fencing, alarms, diving boards and other health and safety regulations applying to private residential pools showed otherwise. However, there is no evidence any governmental or quasi-governmental agency has made any attempt to even proposed standards for private residential pools, which according to the pool industry consultants PK data, coincidentally located just as the CDC is in Atlanta outnumber public or commercial pools in this country about 20 to 1.

The last public recommendations were in 1981, which by then appeared to be nothing more than a last ditch attempt to go through the motions of the failed original intentions of the first committee.  Once again, by 1957 the label “Standards” was long abandoned, replaced by either “Suggestions, or “Recommended Regulations.”  It was apparent by 1981 that the committee was far less forceful or

optimistic that whatever they published would be the basis for legislation but simply “recommended regulations.” The report stated regarding the recommendations that “they should not be considered to be the ‘final” word and only encouraged “Regulatory agencies wishing to enact more stringent minimum standards to achieve an even higher level of health protection, safety and well-being,” “to do so.”

69 years after the APHA addressed the issue of pool hygiene, 63 years after the committee was organized and 55 years after the first report, the only reference to cleaning or vacuuming was:

“A vacuum cleaning system shall be provided to remove debris and foreign material which settles to the bottom of the swimming pool. When it is an integral part of the circulation system, a sufficient number of connections shall be located in the walls of the swimming pool, at least 8 in (20.3 cm) but not more than 12 in (30.5 cm) below the water line.”

By then the CDC was founded (in 1946), followed by the Cabinet-level Department of Health, Education and Welfare (in 1953), now the Department of Health, and Human Services and its 11 operating divisions, the National Health Service Corps (in 1977) and along the way a variety of private and non- profit aquatic organizations such as the National Spa and Pool Association (in 1956), now the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals the National Swimming Pool Foundation (in 1965).

Testament to this failed effort was the plan adopted in 2007 to develop the MAHC following the CDC’s 2005 workshop on recreational water illnesses. It is almost mind-boggling to realize that a full century after the groundwork was laid for the government intervention in the growing health concerns for the dangers for unmonitored aquatic environments, there still remains no uniform pool and spa health and safety code.

As will be demonstrated here at best all attempts to propose legislation were limited to a bare bones provisions that all public pools include a vacuum system. None of the reports and recommendations added any details regardless of the fact after the committee first met in 1918 that there were thousands, probably tens of thousands of patents and innovations in the industry over the succeeding ninety-one years in equipment to adequately and properly clean a pool and spa.

The National Swimming Pool Foundation includes links to the pool and bathing codes of every state. Some states include regulations and ordinances relating to pools in its building, health and safety, bathers and pool codes. The author has done his own research and on a state-by-state basis has scrutinized each and every state code and a myriad of local ones. Most have no rules relating to cleaning, much less vacuuming and cleaning or vacuuming equipment.

Among the states and jurisdictions that have codified the requirement of inclusion of an independent vacuum cleaner are these:

Alabama (Jefferson County Board of Health, Rules and Regulations Governing Design, Construction and Operation of Public Swimming Pools and Spas):

  • Vacuum Cleaner

“The vacuum cleaning system, including suction head and hose, shall be such that the total suction head loss will not exceed 15 feet of water at a flow of 4 gpm per lineal inch of suction cleaner head.”

2010 Title 24, Part 2, Vol. 2 California Building Code. Section 3140B, Cleaning Systems:

“A vacuum cleaning system shall be available which is capable of removing sediment from all parts of the pool floor. A cleaning system using potable water shall be provided with an approved backflow protection device as required by the California Department of Public Health under Sections 7601 to

7605, Article 2, Title 17, California Code of Regulations:

‘No cleaning system shall operate in the pool when the pool is open or available for use by pool users. Built-in vacuum suction lines shall not be installed in the pool.”

Florida Department of Health section 64E-9.007 Recirculation and Treatment System Requirements

“(12) Cleaning system – A portable or plumbed in vacuum cleaning system shall be provided. All vacuum pumps shall be equipped with hair and lint strainers. Recirculation or separate vacuum pumps shall not be used for vacuuming purposes when in excess of 3 horsepower. When the system is plumbed in, the vacuum fittings shall be located to allow cleaning the pool with a 50 foot maximum length of hose. Vacuum fittings shall be mounted no more than 15 inches below the water level, flush with the pool walls, and shall be provided with a spring loaded safety cover which shall be in place at all times. Bag type cleaners which operate as ejectors on potable water supply pressure must be protected by a vacuum breaker. Cleaning devices shall not be used while the pool is open to bathers.”

Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Public Health, Section 26.407 Vacuuming.

‘All pools shall have the capability of vacuuming the bottom either through a skimmer, a separate vacuum fitting or a portable vacuum system. If a portable vacuum system must be used, it shall be stored on-site when the pool is open. Vacuuming through a portable vacuum system that is connected to the potable water supply shall be prohibited.”

Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368

Rule 63. A swimming pool owner shall provide a vacuum cleaning system that is capable of cleaning the swimming   pool.”

(Nevada) NAC 444.174    Vacuum cleaners. (NRS 439.200, 444.070) [Bd. of Health, Public Bathing Places Reg. Art. 28, eff. 5-21-74]—(NAC A 11-1-88)

“1.    A vacuum cleaning system is required at each public bathing or swimming facility having a pool. It must be either a portable type or an integral part of the recirculation system.

  1. There must be sufficient suction and capacity to remove all normal accumulations from the floor of the pool
  2. If the vacuum cleaner is an integral part of the recirculation system, sufficient connections must be located in the walls of the pool, at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) below the water The vacuum cleaner may be connected to the skimmers
  3. Water vacuumed from outdoor pools and from pools with considerable sediment must be discharged to
    1. Any visible dirt on the bottom or sides of the pool, and any visible scum or floating matter on the surface of the pool must be removed before the pool is used.

Rules and Regulations for Licensing Swimming and Wading Pools, Hot Tubs and Spas [R23-22-SWI/H&S]

State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation Department of Health 8.17.1

‘Provision shall be made for vacuum cleaning the bottom of the swimming pool. The suction from the recirculation pumps and sidewall vacuum or skimmer fittings may be utilized for this purpose.”

Utah Administrative Code, R392-302-28. Cleaning Pools.

“(1) The operator shall clean the bottom of the pool as often as needed to keep the pool free of visible dirt.

(2) The operator shall clean the surface of the pool as often as needed to keep the pool free of visible scum or floating matter.”

If the MAHC is to establish truly effective and credible guidelines for all the 3200+ state and local agencies that codify and enforce pool health, safety and operations in rules and regulations in general, it must not fall short of existing laws currently in force.

There must be uniform guidelines for the methodology and equipment relating to cleaning, brushing and vacuuming and the equipment a swimming pool.

The CPS has been actively working with experts in the field to help develop pool cleaners and vacuums that will remove microscopic pathogens, most notably Cryptosporidium.  While doing so poses a difficult challenge given smaller pore filter technology is such that   water flow is impeded to almost zero, the CPS is calling on the industry and scientists to work together and resolve this problem.


The Need for Stricter & Increased Regulations for Cleaning Pools and Spas

                                                                    WHITEPAPER ON

The Need For Strict Regulations For Cleaning Swimming Pools & Spas, and The Mandatory Use of Cleaners and Vacuums In The Center For Disease Control Proposed Model Aquatic Health Code.

By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr. J.D., CPO, CPI. CPSPI, CAEA, CST, CMS, CAFO, CPST

PART I –  Introduction and Overview

Last September the Centers for Disease Control (CDEC) published its long-awaited Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC).

The Center for Public and Lodging Pool Study (CPS) has been actively lobbying the CDC to include the following regulations which did not appear in the first edition of the MAHC and by all indications are unlikely to be included in the upcoming first revision:

“All public and private swimming pools, spas and hot tubs shall have available and use on a regular basis the following vacuum cleaners:

1. An electric robotic vacuum cleaner with an onboard micro filter bag with a capacity of cleaning 90% of the interior surface of a pool in five hours or less;

2. A handheld vacuum cleaner capable of attaching a standard pool pole or including a customized pool with an an electric motor with an onboard micro filter bag ”

As a result of that study and analysis, coupled with the published MAHC’s glaring omission, namely that there are no regulations requiring or even recommending pool and spas be cleaned, much less in what form, manner or regularity. The CPS now proposes that every pool and large spa owner be required to have and regularly use a robotic cleaner and pool and spa vacuum that meets the impending standards determined by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). The CPS is currently working with the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) to establish that standards and certification criteria.


The MAHC must include proposed regulations for all public (and in fact residential) pools requiring regular cleaning, namely brushing and vacuuming at established intervals in an established manner and the use of a robotic swimming pool cleaners and a handheld/extended reach vacuum both with effective filter pore size and other performance criteria established and certified by the NSF based on the following rational:

1.) Any Health Code Must Include Guidelines and Regulations For Cleanliness. The MAHC will include a segment on Disinfection and Water Quality along with Recirculation and Filtration. Ignoring cleanliness caused by dirt, germs and inorganic as well as organic contaminants in a pool and spa water will ignore the first principal of cleanliness and sanitation.  Non-profit organizations like the National Sanitation Foundation for consumer products, the Food Safety Institute of America’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program and the private for profit Ecolab help set guidelines, codify, monitor and inspect and enforce regulations relating to basic cleanliness. It would be a gross malfeasance of responsibility for the CDC to propose uniform national guidelines to the 3200+ state and local health agencies that regulate aquatic facilities that ignore the need and proper manner to clean such facilities;

2.) There Is A Profound Need. Assuring the healthiest aquatic environment requires the regular use of the available state-of-the-art, state-of-the-science cleaners and vacuums independent of the main pool filter and circulation systems;

3.) Most filters used today are ineffective and incomplete. The gross majority of public and private residential pools use high-rate sand filters that are incapable in removing inorganic contaminating particles without a flocculent and coagulants;

4.) Respect and Credibility Must Be Maintained. The MAHC was originally intended as to quell the spread of deadly Cryptosporidium and other recreational water diseases. The steering and individual technical committees will have gone off course, other than the proposed Module for Disinfection and Water Quality, Hygiene and Fecal/Vomit Blood Contamination Response if the code fails to include regulations for proper cleaning methodology and equipment. This will result in losing the respect and credibility for this undertaking.

5.) History Cannot Be Ignored; Failure To Do So Will Be Regressive and Negligent. In 1926, the American Public Health Association Committee of Sanitary Engineers published a report and proposed uniform regulations that recognized the necessity of all pools having an independent vacuum cleaner available and used to remove particles;

6.) The MAHC Must Be A Role Model. While the gross majority of the reported 3200+ state and local agencies that issue ordinances and regulations relating to aquatic facilities at best include and enforce only those very general in nature, some states do require the use of an independent vacuum cleaner. The MAHC should provide the most in-depth guidelines;

7.) Regulations Relating To Proper Cleaning Will Save More Lives and Prevent More Injuries Than The Virginia Graham Baker Act. That federal legislation was an industry response to deaths and injuries caused by entrapment. Far more deaths, injuries and illnesses can be prevented by strong regulations requiring proper cleaning methodology and equipment;

8.) Both Robotic Cleaners For General Cleaning and Handheld/Extended Reach Vacuum Cleaners Are Necessary. Robotic vacuums will only vacuum, brush and filter approximately 90% of the surface area of a pool, floors;

9.) The Guidelines Should Also Be Set For Private Residential Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs;

10.) As A Peripheral Benefit, These Products Will Save Precious Energy.

The CPS has conducted an almost three-year long intensive study of the long existing failure of health and safety organizations and authorities to include laws and regulations directed to public pool operators and publish guidelines to private residential pool owners to properly clean swimming pools and spas and require state-of-the-art cleaning equipment.

The Relevance of This Quest

As reported by the Network for Public Health Law, “In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsored a workshop called “Recreational Water Illness Prevention at Disinfected Swimming Venues.” The workshop assembled individuals from different disciplines working in local, state and federal public health agencies and the aquatics sector to discuss ways to minimize recreational water illnesses (e.g. gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections) resulting from exposure to contaminated water. A key recommendation from the workshop was to develop a data-driven, best practices-based, open-access resource to prevent recreational  water illnesses and injuries, and to promote healthy and safe recreational water experiences. This led to the development of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC).”

Of the approximate fourteen technical committees all preliminary modules are believed to have been published, albeit not in final form for public review. The final MAHC Recirculation Systems and Filtration module, which along with that of Disinfection & Water Quality appeared to be the most relevant to target the original purpose of the workshop and subsequent decision to develop the MAHC, while arguably those relation to Hygiene Facilities and Fecal/Vomit/ Blood Contamination Response are also relevant.  Two related glaring omissions in this module are (1) No regulations relating to cleaning, namely brushing and vacuuming pools and spas and, (2) No regulations requiring the use of scientifically-proven electric robotic and handheld/extended-reach pool and spa vacuums.

Microorganisms in Aquatic Facilities

The existence of microorganisms was hypothesized for many centuries before the invention of the microscope by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in the 1670s and his concurrent discovery of bacteria and other microscopic organisms.

At about the same time Sir Francis Bacon started experimenting with an unsophisticated form of sand filtration. It did not exactly work, but it did paved the way for further experimentation by other scientists.

Early in the 19th century a sand filter was built in Scotland and within a few decades James Simpson constructed a water treatment plant in London. While for several millennium there existed so-called “public baths” which other than for the affluent were more for actual bathing than recreational and social purposes Later in that century public pools began to be built, it was not until later in that century that public pools began to be built. As they rose in popularity the dangers of contamination became recognized. In the 1890s America started building large sand filters to protect public health and as the popularity of swimming pools grew….

*To be continued…look forward to Part II, being published tomorrow

Understanding Emerging Pool Cleaning Technologies

by Richard K. Cacioppo

A clean pool is essential to any home, public facility, neighborhood or lodging facility. Pool operators have a responsibility to the bathers and swimmers who use their pool and spas to maintain health and safety, reduce risk, and conserve energy. They also have legal responsibility.

Filter systems do not brush and vacuum a pool. The walls, steps, floor and hard to reach areas of the pool must be continuously brushed to release contaminants into the water. Then dirt, leaves and even microscopic debris are sucked into the skimmers or the bottom drains. The use of a robotic pool cleaner and a handheld cordless vacuum will result in enormous savings in labor and electricity. In addition to a degree they will also reduce the use and cost of pool chemicals because among their other benefits they also help balance the chemicals and reduce over use. They also balance the heat of the water saving added electricity costs for those pool operators that heat their pools.

Our studies have shown that the average pool operator can save up to thousands of dollars every year by using these two devices. This will more than offset any cost associated with purchasing a high quality, new pool cleaning vacuum.

Table of cleaningMore importantly their use will provide a healthier, safer and esthetically appealing swimming pool.

The turbulent nature of both robotic cleaners and handheld vacs propelling clean water back into the pool acts like a giant blender. Heat and chemicals are balanced, adding additional saving.

Currently several states, most notably those with the most pools, both residential and public, California and Florida require they use either a portable or integral part of the circulation system.  In the near future the Model Aquatic Health Code will be modified to require the use of independent cleaners and possibly handheld vacuums. Using these products may soon not be an option, but the law!  Right now it just is good sense and good business.

History of Pool Cleaners

Recreational swimming is almost as old as civilization itself. Drawings from the Stone Age were found in “the cave of swimmers” in Egypt, capturing the technique of the breaststroke and the doggie paddle. Other references to swimming were found in Babylonian bas-reliefs and Assyrian wall drawings, depicting a variant of the breaststroke. The most famous drawings were found in the Kebir desert and are estimated to be from around 4000 B.C. The Nagoda bas-relief also shows swimmers dating back from 3000 B.C. An Egyptian tomb from 2000 B.C. shows a variant of the front crawl. Depictions of swimmers were also found from the HittitesMinoans, and other Middle Eastern civilizations, the Maya in the Tepantitla House at Teotihuacan, and on mosaics in Pompeii….


It is amazing that today with the millions of pools, spas and hot tubs in place, that perhaps the majority of pool owners still clean their pools, the old fashioned way … skimming the surface with a net, brushing and vacuuming by connecting a long hose to the main pool filtering system.  Yet slowly, but surely, powered swimming pool cleaners are getting more and more popular.

Like pools themselves, there almost certainly was not a single inventor or a single powered pool cleaner that has been recorded in history as the first such machine. Many of today’s manufacturers of pool cleaners have overzealously claimed that a company they acquired, invented the first automatic pool cleaner. The industry abounds with rumors and inaccurate recollections. Most of these claims are pure fiction, including a recent article in Wikipedia that contends the first automatic pool cleaner, the Kreepy Krauly was invented in 1974. Hogwash! This is akin to claiming the 1974 Chevrolet was the first automobile.

A search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office disclosed that today’s powerized swimming pool cleaners evolved slowly from the combinations of a variety of other machines … pumps, motors, rotating brush devices, and particularly cisterns. The forerunner of today’s pool cleaners were cistern cleaners. A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Often cisterns are and were built to catch and store rainwater. The great palaces of antiquity had both lavish pools and cisterns. They were prevalent in early America as well. The USPTO makes reference to a cistern cleaner patent being filed, although never issued as early as 1798!

In 1883, John E. Pattison of New Orleans filed an application for a “Cistern and Tank Cleaner,” and the first discovered patent was issued the following year. It swept and scraped the bottom of a cistern or tank and through a combination of suction and manipulation of the water pressure was able to separate and remove sediment without removing the water. Over the next 20 years, his invention was improved on numerous occasions. Many pool cleaner patents issued in the modern era refer to some of the cistern cleaners as antecedent to their invention.

Dawsons 1912 cleaning apparatus
Dawson’s 1912 “Cleaning Apparatus For Swimming Pools and the like,” the first U.S. Patent issued for a pool cleaner.

In 1912, while the air was black with the smoke of the great steel mills in Pittsburgh, local citizen John M. Davison submitted an application of a “Cleaning Apparatus for Swimming Pools and the Like.” It read: “My invention relates to the art of dredging and is particularly designed for cleaning the bottoms of swimming tanks, and the like, where sediment collects, and it is desirable to remove without emptying the water in the tank”. As stated above, Americans did not invent everything, and there are a variety of references in many patents issued by the USPTO to foreign antecedent patents although most appear to be various parts that were incorporated in the applicant’s invention. But it is safe to say if Mr. Davison did not invent the first pool cleaner, he certainly was issued the first patent in the United States for it.

johnstons pool cleaner
Imagine seing a pallet of Johnston’s pool cleaners stocked on the floor or shelves in a Leslie’s Poolmart.

The next attempt to perfect a pool cleaner tool was about ten years later when Texan Jordie J. Johnston applied for a patent that looked more like one of today’s liquor or serving carts in a restaurant than something that presumably would roam around the bottom of a swimming pool filled with water. The examiners at the USPTO must have also scratched their heads as it took them eight long years before they issued him a patent.

Another fifteen years went by when in 1937 Roy B. Everson of Chicago filed the first patent for a machine that actually looks akin to some of today’s pool cleaners, brushes and all. Everson should be credited with inventing the first modern pool cleaner!

Ferdinand Chauvier a native of the Belgian Congo, who emigrated to South Africa in 1951 and then to the United States, allegedly began to tinker with an idea he had just after World War II in 1947. It took him twenty seven years before his device was finalized. The first Kreepy Krauly made of wood was “invented.” It does not appear to have been patented until 1977, two years earlier in South Africa. The Kreepy Krauly may have earned the claim of its current owners, Pentair, that it is the best-selling pool cleaner in history, purportedly over 1.5 million sold. However, it missed being the first pool cleaner by at least sixty one years.

Two years later Andrew L. Pansini, founder of Jandy, made an indelible mark in the pool industry by inventing what the author originally mistakenly believed was the first automatic pool cleaner. And why not? Jandy, which was later acquired by the huge Teledyne Corporation claimed that it was. What this may have been was the first pool cleaner patent to claim the title, “Automatic Swimming Pool Cleaner.” This was not a simple machine. It required use of the house water supply, presumably a faucet, attached to a hose and the main pump and filter system of the pool. It took the patent office four years before deciding to issue Pansini his patent.

What followed was a rash of other suction-side cleaners, none of which appeared to have any immediate commercial impact.   Perhaps the most successful early pool manufacturing company was AquaVac Systems.  According to The Complete Story published on the Hayward website, the company began selling residential and commercial pool cleaners in 1962. This was a pivotal year in American retailing as Walmart, Target, Kmart and virtually every major surviving discount department store chain all were founded that year.

aqua queen
In the early 1960’s Gelinas and Watson patented what originally were candidates for the Aqua Queen, but since they were not self-powered they could not have been. Watson’s design however may have influenced the Queen’s design.

The Aqua Queen was truly revolutionary. Reputed to weight over 40 lbs. and according to those who remember it, the big lug bumped around from wall-to-wall.

In 1983, Aqua Products entered the market with more technological advancements. The company launched its Aquabot residential micro-filter cleaner and the Aqua Max series of commercial pool cleaners. It followed with other innovations, remote controlled cleaners and huge commercial monstrosities costing upwards of $6,000. One of their inventive ideas that never quite took hold was the Aquabot Bravo Lumina, which featured a neon light in the handle. It would not shock anyone who knows the designer and president of Aqua Products, Giora (“Jerry”) Erlich, if a talking unit is on the drawing board. The company was recently sold along with its international sister company Aquatron, to Fluida, a Spanish conglomerate that includes the European industry giant Astral.   Aqua Products has long competed with two main rivals in the robotic swimming pool industry, AquaVac Systems, mentioned above, and Maytronics. Maytronics was founded in Israel and entered the American market with Erlich as its American representative. Before he partnered in forming Aqua Products with one of Maytronics’ principals, Aquatron’s former top executive and still co-owner, Joseph Porat.

Although the author spent seven years working with Erlich and Porat, including working with their outside legal counsel, both have always been tight-lipped as to how Maytronics’ Dolphin seemed to evolve into Aqua Products’ Aquabot. The usual explanation was that “We have a licensing agreement.” The two companies have done battle in both foreign and American courts over time, but there is no dispute that the Aquabot is a later version of the original Dolphin.

The progeny of this invention was a growing line of Dolphins, Aquabots and a horde of residential and commercial products that dominated the American robotic pool cleaner market for the last three decades. Comparing the first Aqua Queen to any of these machines would be like comparing a 21’, 7,000 lb. early 1930’s Bugatti Royale with a seek new electric Tesla sports car. They were faster, far more efficient and climbed the walls of the pool. These electric robotics were and are the most technologically-advanced pool cleaner designs in the world. More than thirty five years after the first patent was issued in South Africa, neither company, their smaller competitor AquaVac or any other company in the world has patented a significantly-improved robotic machine. Many changes, bells and whistles, like the Aquabot Turbo Remote Control model have occurred and been patented, but nothing really revolutionary, at least for the so-called automatic pool cleaners.

Until the 21st century began, there were three basic pool cleaner technologies, suction-side (i.e. the Kreepy Krauly), pressure-side (i.e. the Polaris) and electric robotic (i.e. the Aquabot). Although designed more for spas, hot tubs and kiddie pools, it would be a stretch to characterize the wide variety of garden hose attachments and hand-powered wands to even be considered a technology, at least worthy of the other three. To clean these small applications, companies like G.A.M.E., Rainbow, Polaris and Grit Gitter have introduced hand-operated wands to go along with the myriad of garden hose attachments. The Spa and Hot Tub category had been the industry’s fastest growing segment until The Great Recession of the 2009. With as many as seven million spas and hot tubs standing, no one seemed to have invented or patented a power-driven vacuum specifically designed for spa, hot tubs or even kiddie and wading pools.

However, the new century and millennium produced the first new pool cleaner technology since the third quarter of the 20th century. The line also developed into one that extended to power-driven machines to clean even the smallest pools of water.

Many in the industry, including the author, believed that Guy Erlich‘s brainchild of developing a hand-operated pool (and spa) cleaner was taking a big technological step backwards, akin to inventing a new standard transmission for an automobile. Erlich proved us all wrong. His concept was not just another non-automatic pool cleaner, but a battery-powered one. Easier said than done. For years others had tried and failed.

With Erlich’s 2002 patent applicable, (issued two years later) the Pool Buster became an exclusive new category, which it has all to itself; a powerized, totally independent manually-operated one. Running on a rechargeable, onboard battery, the Pool Blaster is the only powerized pool cleaner that works without hoses, power cords or booster pumps. To add functionality every Pool Blaster attaches easily to any telescopic pool pole, although some models now include their own pole. The patent explained that the body houses a filter and an impeller attached to an electric motor. It also includes a handle for ease of carrying and for manipulating the nozzle over the surface of a pool to clean it. The company recently announced plans to accept the next challenge of cleaning not only the floors, steps and walls of a pool or spa, but the water’s surface as well. Here is where leaves and other debris gather until they are sufficiently saturated and sink to the bottom where they are vacuumed.

The swimming pool industry is a very fractionalized, highly competitive and often cut-throat one. This work is not meant to be an all-inclusive definitive study of the history of the pool cleaner. Not even all iconic brands were mentioned, but only those which can be traced to a patent. Given this, the author apologizes for any inadvertent, erroneous information and speculation which might turn out to be less than 100% accurate. However, this is still the most definitive, accurate history of the pool cleaner published to date.