YMCA pool has brighter future

Swimming at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA will be a little easier on the eyes after the club replaces its pool chlorination systems with ultraviolet light filtration.

When the project is completed in the fall, the pools will be the only ultraviolet light-filtered pools in Southern Oregon, YMCA Development Director Ty Hisatomi said.

The YMCA recently received three grants allowing it to remodel an entry to the pool and replace the pool's current chlorine sanitization system with UV light filtration.

The light sanitizer will eliminate the stuffy chemical-filled atmosphere in the pool building and will not be harmful to walls, swimmers or the pools themselves like chlorine can be.

"UV filtration is a real efficient way of killing off all the things you want to in a public pool and leaves the water itself in a better condition," Hisatomi said.

Ultraviolet light rays hit the water inside a filter tube and can deactivate water-borne bacteria, viruses, algae and chemicals. According to the YMCA, UV filters can deactivate 99.9 percent of bacteria that chlorine and saline filtration systems cannot.

YMCA directors considered using the grant money to install a saline filtering system, but chose UV sanitization because it was more efficient and would be cheaper over time.

Hisatomi said the UV system uses more energy to operate, but he expected to save $800 to $1,000 in monthly maintenance fees.

Once the new system is installed, the water will be clear and odor free. Chlorine presence in the water and air will decrease, but some of the chemical is still required for filtration, Hisatomi said.

A total of $52,000 was given for the project from the Nye Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Collins Foundation and the Carpenter Family Foundation. The final of the three grants was received two weeks ago, but YMCA volunteers and staff had already finished another project using funds from the Carpenter grant.

An emergency exit door leading from the pool building to a hallway was remodeled to make the room more accessible for people with disabilities.

An electronic card key system, like those in many hotels, was put in place to allow cardholders to use a much shorter route to the pool. The card key temporarily deactivates the alarm on the door, which also serves as a fire exit, and opens automatically.

Both the pool filter and automatic door projects were part of the YMCA's Aquatic Accessibility and Enhancement project. Hisatomi said the goal of the project is to increase access to facilities at YMCA and provide more programs for seniors and people with disabilities.

Reach intern Stacey Barchenger at 776-4464 or e-mail her at intern1@mailtribune.com.

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