By Jeff Roseman, CWS-III

Summary: In an age when water treatment dealers, more than ever, seek various ways to diversify their product line, one attractive service comes just in time for the summer months. Pools and spas don’t necessitate additional certification or knowledge and the basics are elementary to many dealers. Hence, it’s a good market to pursue.

Diversification of product line and/or services in a tight economy is necessary in any business. In the water treatment industry, this opens up a plethora of opportunities. There are many products and services that water treatment dealers can add to their arsenal, but one treatment application that comes to mind is for swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. This is true for dealerships in rural as well as urban settings. Here, we focus on rural settings where the source often is groundwater from a well.

Another revenue option
Water dealers should look to pool water treatment, since many times they’re more familiar with the customer’s water source than a pool or spa dealer. Pool water can be very tricky to treat if the chemistry isn’t analyzed closely. Pool dealers treat water in a different fashion than water dealers, because pool dealers don’t necessarily think about treating the water before it enters a pool or spa. Chemicals are easy to use and the results are tried and trusted, so pool dealers use flocculents to help filters clear up contaminants, such as iron, in well water situations. Municipal water supplies don’t need to use these chemicals since the water is pretreated. Other alternatives, such as ozone and copper ionization, can work great to control bacteria and microorganisms, but are often used incorrectly and, therefore, marginal results follow. An understanding of oxidation reduction potential (ORP) for monitoring disinfection levels and the automation of pH control can help reduce labor and chemical use.

Alternatives to the norm
Alternative treatments can be very lucrative if implemented properly. Residential as well as commercial accounts can pay big dividends. If pool or spa water was treated as it was added, it could reduce a lot of chemicals and labor to obtain clean water, which is better for the environment and saves money. Small iron filters for slow refill can reduce chemical use and user frustration, too. Initial equipment cost is always a factor, but reduced labor and chemical use can give the homeowner a fast return on investment (ROI). If systems are implemented on commercial pools, the ROI can be short term.

Frequently, pool owners try to cut corners by shutting off their pumps to save electric costs. Pool and spa water should never be stagnant. Pools need to have the water turned over every 8-12 hours at a minimum. Pools that are used by the public should be turned over every six hours, or according to local health codes. What this means is that a pool which contains 25,000 gallons of water should be filtered at a rate of at least 40 gallons per minute and larger pools need even greater flow rates. Local health regulations must be met for residual chlorine levels in commercial applications. Most states require a residual of 1.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm) of chlorine, but be sure to check your local health codes.

Beyond sanitizer of choice
Chlorine is the sanitizer of choice and has been used to disinfect for decades in the pool and spa industry. Alternative methods, such as ozone and copper ionization, are frequently not used or implemented since they’re misunderstood and seem complicated by comparison. Initial costs and failure to size equipment properly have discouraged widespread use. Pool and spa supply houses often have systems available, but too often these products are undersized for the size of pool or spa. Bacteria, as well as iron and manganese, are variables many users don’t factor into the formula and, thus, systems may fail to perform as desired. Copper is very good at controlling algae and works well at controlling bacteria. Ozone is very good at oxidizing contaminants plus killing bacteria. By using pH and ORP monitors and injecting acid and chlorine properly, pool and spa waters can be kept clean and virtually bacteria-free. Chlorine works better when water is balanced correctly and it’s important to monitor pH and add acid to keep water in balance. Chlorine raises pH and the acid lowers it to keep the H + and OH- ions in line. Alkalinity must also be checked and adjusted accordingly. While using fewer chemicals, these systems can reduce labor costs significantly since they keep the pool and spa clean without all the maintenance that traditional systems require.

People always complain about the chlorine and chloramine smell (since chloramine is a byproduct of chlorine and ammonia) and burning of the eyes, and blame the use of too much chlorine. In actuality, it’s too low of a dose of chlorine that causes the problems. When using ozone and copper ionization, the amount of chlorine needed to keep the ORP level at the proper set point is reduced drastically because the ozone and copper take the brunt of the weight in the disinfection process. A set point of 650 millivolts (mV) is an accepted ORP standard for eradicating most bacteria in the pool and spa industry.

Backyard lab experiment
As an added bonus to the information given in this article, an experiment was conducted on a pool system using the pool water for yard and garden irrigation. This experiment proved several points and opens another diverse application. A very putrid well water source was being used for irrigation, but the water was unsatisfactory because of iron staining. The antique look wasn’t the desired effect the homeowner was looking for in the backyard.

The well water has iron levels of 5+ ppm, manganese of 0.5 ppm, tannins of 4 ppm, and hardness of 26 grains per gallon (gpg), sulfates over 200 ppm, plus a high total dissolved solids (TDS) level. Using an oxidation filter to reduce the iron and manganese level for refilling the pool and using ozone and copper ionization to help reduce bacterial problems, the pool water was cleaned using a standard sand filter. A corona discharge ozone generator and oxygen concentrator was used in the experiment. The manufacturer’s output specifications were 1.7 grams per hour (gr/hr) of ozone production.

Heavy rains caused problems at first, but after a few weeks the pool was stabilized and chlorine use has been minimal. The water is totally clear and the chlorine residual measured was 0.2 ppm. A dissolved ozone test also revealed a 0.2-ppm level of ozone and, from experience, this translates into a 650+ mV range. Copper levels were between 0.3 and 0.5 ppm, which is a very good level. The chlorine smell was sharply reduced and burning of the eyes gone, while bacteria levels were kept in check. As such, the clearness of the water relates to a healthy swimming environment. We also measured electrocon-ductivity (EC) in the water since we were watering plants. TDS and EC are very similar, but greenhouse growers usually measure EC levels when growing plants. The EC of the pool water consistently measured between 1,000 and 1,100 ppm. Water below 1,200-1,300 ppm is considered good, because plants drink through capillary action and can absorb this water. The chemical content of this pool water hasn’t had any detrimental effects on the plants. The extra oxygen in the water, created from ozone, is good for plant root activity.

A water dealer looking for alternative methods of water treatment may overlook opportunities that could be a good fit with an existing business. Adding a pool service component is just one thing he or she can turn to for expanding revenue opportunities. Coffee delivery is implemented with bottled water, salt delivery is almost always a service softener specialists capitalize on, filter replacement offers residual income through reverse osmosis (RO) sales, and service contracts are another method of increasing profit margins.

Diversification of a product line to an established client should be a relatively easy transition, since water testing and water analysis is the forte of a water dealer. The number of pools and spas offered by a dealer’s customer base brings forth ideas of providing a one-stop shop for clients. By helping customers understand their water source and offering products that can reduce chemical use and labor, such as ozone and ionization, water treatment professionals become a valuable resource to their existing customers, thus increasing product line and profits.


  1. “Staying Out of Hot Water: Testing and Treatment for Pools & Spas,” Michael Gardner, WC&P, May 2004.
  2. “Pool and Spa Disinfection—A Reduced Chemical Approach,” Jeff Roseman, Water Quality Products, May 2003.

About the author
Jeff Roseman is the owner of Aqua Ion Plus Technologies, of La Porte, Ind. Roseman holds the Water Quality Association designation of Certified Water Specialist, Level 3. His two specialties in water treatment are ozone and disinfection and he’s worked to help educate customers on chemical reduction in pools and spas. He can be reached at (219) 362-7279 (tel/fax) or website:



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