Urbanisation, estate lifestyles and the role of pool covers

Estate homeowners have slightly different factors to consider when it comes to pool maintenance
The PowerPlastics Solid Safety Cover uses a ratchet and baton system to tension the cover, and drainage holes ensure that rainwater drains off quickly and does not pose a drowning risk

South African urbanisation has in recent years seen the proliferation of residential gated communities and a surge in demand for freehold properties on estates. These estates tick all the boxes on home security and offer a cost-efficient, lock up and go lifestyle in aesthetically pleasing surroundings with a community-focused way of life. While convenient, estate homeowners with pools have slightly different factors to consider when it comes to pool maintenance compared to freestanding residential homeowners, according to PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

“Estate pool owners definitely have different parameters and need to comply with estate regulations. Two of the most critical issues are sustainability and child safety in this environment,” says Roger Bester, Managing Director of PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

A growing trend within the South African estate lifestyle is the eco-estate or green gated community, developed and maintained so that they support environmental sustainability in the localised area. Just as commercial greening has established its place in the sustainability discussion, green certification and related tools for the domestic setting are available and continue to evolve with solutions driven by new technologies and demand driven by better awareness around climate change and the easy steps one can take to lessen one’s personal footprint.

Water and power efficiency are among the top criteria for green ratings. A pool pump can consume up to 12% of a household’s power usage, and in summer, the average pool can lose up to 105 litres a day to evaporation. Fortunately, the ‘green’ pool solution is relatively simple and pool covers require no real lifestyle change in terms of how the pool is used.

The GeoBubble range of bubble covers from PowerPlastics Pool Covers is favoured for its remarkable innovation, performance and longevity. An EnergyGuard GeoBubble cover reduces energy demand by 50% as the water is cleaner and requires less filtration and fewer chemicals. One also has the benefits of natural heating with GeoBubble pool covers, eliminating the need for heat pumps. It is also an excellent way to close the pool in winter or when going away for a long period.

Water management is also significant for estates, many of which are developed around wetlands and vibrant natural ecosystems. One can’t simply backwash a chlorinated pool and let the water drain into the ecosystem as it can have a devastating effect on plant, aquatic and bird life. Estates invest heavily in the right water infrastructure and each one will typically have their own regulations about the disposal or recycling of pool water. It is worth noting that, with a Geobubble cover, because the pool is kept clean and clear of debris, chlorine demand can be reduced by as much as 60%. Not only is this an ecological benefit but it has cost benefits too for the homeowner. Furthermore, evaporation is also curtailed almost entirely, translating into significant water savings as top ups are no longer needed.

Sustainability creates a common language for estates and pool covers can play a critical role in meeting the desired green rating, but this is just as relevant to estates without environmental policies. On the property market, estate homes with green certification or even just green modifications are now proving more marketable among certain demographics.

“Imagine if every pool in a 100-home estate is using half the power on filtration, 98% less water and 60% less chemicals? The estate’s overall sustainability profile is drastically improved.

“Some may argue that if the green estate is powered by solar, there is no real incentive to save power, nor does one feel the inconvenience of loadshedding or consider the struggling national grid. But renewable resources such as solar come with pitfalls too. The infrastructure is expensive and difficult to move, and storing solar energy is costly too. Similarly, a home that depends on rainwater harvesting as a primary water resource may still face intermittent supply issues and costly infrastructure. It makes sense to first reduce the demand,” says Bester.

Child safety is the other critical factor to get right in the estate lifestyle and is in fact a regulatory issue, governed by the SABS through its building Standards.

In settings where there are no individual boundary walls or fences enclosing each property, the pool can be considered a drowning risk should a child or pet come into the area. According to the pool safety Standard (SANS 10134), access must be prohibited. The most effective way to address this is with a solid safety pool cover. While securing homeowner pools is not law, SANS 10134 (2018) provides a recommended standard. This recommended standard has been adopted by some gated estates as compulsory and by some municipalities within their by-laws. All in all, it goes a long way towards preventing drownings.

PowerPlastics Pool Covers was the original company to design this bestselling solid safety cover many years ago and its design has been copied widely however, what homeowners don’t always realise is the installation of a safety cover is just as critical as getting its function, design and aesthetics right. A poorly installed sub-standard cover can be as dangerous to children as an open pool.

Pool owners are advised to understand the different criteria for an approved pool safety device.

The PowerPlastics Solid Safety Cover is SABS certified. It uses a ratchet and baton system to tension the cover, and drainage holes ensure that rainwater drains off quickly and does not pose a drowning risk. It looks great too, and a range of colours allows the cover to blend into the surrounds for seamless aesthetics. It can also be semi-automated for ease of use.

Compared to other safety methods to restrict access, like fences or nets, this solid safety cover forms a complete barrier over the water, adding sustainability to the mix. When using a net or fence, there is still open water subject to dirt, debris and evaporation.

Water safety and supervision are paramount in an estate setting, where a public pool forms part of a club house or gym and wellness area. The estate needs to secure the pool according to guidelines and provide a lifeguard service whenever the pool is open for swimming.

Gated communities are not going away. They are a tried and tested way of life for all generations, but owning a pool comes with responsibility.

“The question we are always asked is what is the best pool cover for this gated environment? Where children are able to access the pool, the first consideration should be their safety. A PowerPlastics Solid Safety Cover will still offer water, power and chemical savings and contribute to the green goals. A GeoBubble thermal cover is a wise investment for any pool where children are not a factor. It is not unheard of to have both covers on a pool, covering all bases on safety and sustainability.

“And the best design? The best estate pool is one that is planned with a pool cover in mind. When the developer, the pool builder, and the pool cover company come together at the planning stage to build a functional pool that can be covered for safety and sustainability reasons. It is a smaller pool with clean, straight lines, sturdy coping and a smaller power-smart pool pump. Importantly, it is a pool within a home that understands and respects natural capital i.e. the ecosystem’s resources on which we depend,” concludes Bester.

PowerPlastics Pool Covers

Name

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za