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What Do I Do If Someone Has Pooped In My Pool?

May 21, 2019

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Is Poop Dangerous?

Believe it or not, feces in the pool is a fairly common occurrence. It is even more common in areas that service a high amount of children at your facility. If not treated properly, this poop can lead to a multitude of Recreational Water Illnesses such as:

These Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI's) can be deadly or can ruin someone's vacation at the very least. Making sure we react properly as pool and spa operators in a fecal incident is crucial in preventing the spread of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI). In this week's article, we are going to be exploring what you need to do to keep your property as safe as possible in the event of an Accidental Fecal Release. 


What Do I Do If Someone Has Pooped In My Pool?

Treating a fecal incident in the water will heavily depend upon the nature of the incident. Solid formed feces will be treated significantly differently than a diarrheal incident. Let's explore what you will do to protect your swimmers in each situation.


First Things First, Everyone Out Of The Pool!

Getting everyone out of the pool after someone has pooped may seem like a logical move, but there are many in the pool industry that will tell you just to have swimmers relocate to the opposite side of the pool from the incident. This could not be further from the truth. Ensuring that the pool is closed and that everyone is out of the pool is the #1 most important part of responding to a fecal incident. 

Once everyone is out of the pool, then, and only then, can you properly respond to the situation. 

Should I Vacuum The Poop In My Pool?

We at Pool Training Academy do not recommend you vacuum the feces from your pool. It is a better practice to keep the feces as contained as possible. Assess the situation at your pool and determine the best route for you to remove the feces in as contained a manner as possible. 

Also, once you have removed the material from the pool, please throw the equipment you used to remove said material into the pool so it also gets disinfected along with your pool water. 


Formed Stool Incident

For a formed stool incident you will want to adhere to the following guidelines to ensure that your pool is as safe and clean as possible. All of this information has been recommended by the Center For Disease Control and you can click here to ensure that the information we are providing is backed by sound science. 

  1. Raise chlorine level to 2ppm (If you are not already operating at this level or higher)
  2. Maintain a pH of 7.5 or less (Chlorine is more effective in lower pH environments that higher)
  3. Maintain a temperature of 77˚f or higher
  4. Maintain this environment for 30 minutes

By following these rules you can ensure that any potential RWI will be eliminated from your water and keep your swimmers safe. Keep in mind that your state and local codes may say something different. For links to your state code as well as the Model Aquatic Health Code please click here. 


Diarrhea Stool Incident

For a diarrheal stool incident, the CDC recommends that stronger action be taken. The reason we are worried about diarrhea as opposed to formed stool is because the diarrhea indicates the swimmer could be suffering from a Cryptosporidium-related illness. Cryptosporidium (or Crypto) is highly resistant to chlorine disinfection due to a protective shell surrounding the bacteria. As a result, you will want to be sure to follow these requirements:

  1. Raise chlorine levels to 20ppm
  2. Maintain a pH of 7.5 or less
  3. Maintain a temperature of 77 or higher
  4. Maintain this environment for 12.75 hours.

NOTE: It is crucial that you look to your state and local codes for the exact time required for this hyperchlorination event as some codes, like Colorado's state code, require 24 hours of hyperchlorination. 


What If I'm Using Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid)?

If you are using a stabilizer in concentrations of 1-15ppm in your pool from the use of Trichlor or manual feeding, it is crucial that you raise your inactivation time for 12.75 hours to 28 hours. This is a very long time! The CDC requires this change because stabilizers can inhibit the full inactivation power of your chlorine. If you are using stabilizer in concentrations above 1-15 ppm in your pool the CDC requires that you partially drain your pool and refill it once the stabilizer can be diluted to a concentration of 1-15ppm. 


The Final Step: Flocculation

It has been proven time and time again that if your filter isn't capable of filtering down to 4-6 microns cryptosporidium will simply pass directly through your filtration equipment. This is a problem! Thankfully the Sea Klear PRS (Particulate Removal System) has proven to bond smaller particles, like Crypto, together into larger compounds that can be caught in your filter and then backwashed out. Note: Sea Klear PRS is one of the only flocculants on the market proven to be able to help flocculate down to the level to remove Crypto. Be sure to confirm the flocculation power of a product before attempting to flocculate out Crypto. 


Can Ozone or UV Kill Crypto?

The simple answer is yes, both ozone and UV will kill Crypto, but Pool Training Academy still recommends you follow the CDC requirements form germ inactivation as a further measure to protect your swimmers. We will also discuss the further benefits of Ozone and UV in a later article. 


What Do I Do Now That The Poop Is Out Of My Pool?

Once you have removed the feces from the water and properly treated your pool, you will need to lower your disinfectant back down to normal operation levels using sodium thiosulfate. It is also crucial as a commercial (or public) property to log the response you took in regard to an accidental fecal release. Be sure to take note of your chemical readings throughout the disinfection process and do not let your disinfectant levels drop below the CDC requirement. If your level does drop below the requirement, you will need to start the entire disinfection process over again. 

Once you have completed these requirements, you may open your pool again! 


How Do I Become CPO® Certified?

Responding to and treating contaminated water is only one of the many challenges pool and spa operators face on a day to day basis. Making sure you know what to do in any given situation is crucial for you as an operator. Thankfully Pool Training Academy offers Certified Pool Operator® Classes year-round and close to you. We offer CPO® classes from the Denver Metro Area to San Antonio, Texas, Los Angeles, CA to Nashville, TN. Please click here to sign up for the class that will ensure you are the best pool and spa operator you can be. 


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