Waterfront: April 2005

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An Uninvited Guest

Swimmers discover crocodile in public pool.

A 3-foot-long saltwater crocodile was found sharing a public swimming pool with four surprised lap swimmers at Palmerston Leisure Centre's Olympic-sized swimming pool in Palmerston, Australia.

Upon discovering the "saltie" and evacuating swimmers from the pool, lifeguards contacted the Australian government's wildlife staff to remove the young male, which seemed placid and in poor health, says government spokesman Clay Smith, who could not say whether the crocodile had crawled to the pool from the wild or had been dumped there.

Once netted, it was taken to a local crocodile farm where it will either join breeding stock or be made into handbags.

Five minutes after the crocodile's departure from the pool, lap swimmers were back in the water.

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living crocodilian species, with adult males growing up to 23 feet long, although anything more than 17 feet long is rare. Juvenile crocodiles will eat small mammals, insects, shellfish and fish. Adult crocodiles will eat snakes, buffalo, domestic cattle, and have been known to eat humans. The saltwater crocodile can be found in coastal waters between Northern Australia and the southern coast of India, and in freshwater rivers and swamps. They're rarely found in swimming pools.

Pooling Resources

Paragon Pools turns grand opening into fundraise.

While everyone's in business to make money, pursuing this alone usually doesn't make for a fulfilling career. But using your resources to give back to the community does give work a greater purpose. Keeping this in mind, Joe Vassallo, president of Paragon Pools in Las Vegas, turned the grand opening of his new corporate office into a fundraiser benefiting the Clark County School District Title 1 HOPE program. Guests including vendors, sub-contractors, other business associates, family and friends were also asked to bring donations of school supplies.

Vassallo hosts a fundraiser annually for the nonprofit organization, which provides assistance to more than 3,000 students in the local school system. At the grand opening, Paragon raised $2,500 through a raffle and silent auction; over the past few years, Paragon has raised close to $10,000. These funds go directly to the Title 1 program, which distributes school supplies, bus passes, personal hygiene items, shoes and food vouchers to the students.

Out and About

Aaron and Ethan Vogel — along with their mom — learned about hot tubs from Tabitha Wright of Bachmann Pools & Spas, Madison, Wis. AQUA Editor Kirstin Pires met the Vogel family at a recent local garden expo.

Beautiful Spaces

Two books provide plenty of outdoor ideas.

Though they've been around for centuries, outdoor rooms have evolved to a new level in the last few years. Decks are now much more than bland squares of pressure-treated lumber nailed to the back of homes and patios are no longer just indifferent slabs of concrete. Homeowners investing in their yards want something to match the scale and style of their castle. For anyone planning this outdoor space, especially those with a bigger budget, The Deck & Patio Idea Book, by Julie Stillman and Jane Gitlin, offers a bounty of beautiful photos with innovative ideas for designing it. Pool builders will enjoy the "Poolside Patios" section, as well as the many ideas for creating patios with bricks, stones, concrete, tile, or rocks and gravel. There are also numerous helpful illustrations showing stone paving patterns, terracing techniques and more.

For anyone crafting an outdoor space with a garden, Jan and Michael Gertley's Classic Garden Structures may come in handy. This well-organized book guides readers through the process of building 18 projects, from the simplest of garden tools, like a garden sieve or plant caddy, to more-complicated structures like a potting bench, a vegetable washstand and even a greenhouse. For each project, there's a complete materials list, step-by-step instructions, diagrams that show how to build the structures, and, of course, a lovely photo of what the finished product should look like.

After browsing through these books with their photos of bucolic garden settings and spectacular oceanside patios, it's hard not to get excited about spending time outdoors.

— K.E.

Easy As 1-2-3

Water chemistry booklet explains topic in simple language.

Since most pool owners like learning about water chemistry as much as they enjoy a visit to the dentist, the easier dealers can make that learning process, the better. Toward that end, Pool & Patio Center in Coventry, R.I., created Pool Water Chemistry Made Easy! The 8-page booklet is straightforward and written in language that even the newest of pool owners can understand. For example, it describes water with a high pH as corrosive and acidic like vinegar and says water with a low pH forms scale comparable to barnacles on a boat.

Annette Stockley, vice president of Pool & Patio Center, says the company has also used the booklet in training its new full-time, part-time and seasonal staffers. Stockley says one new staff member found it so useful, "it was like her bible." And one customer who happens to be a science teacher uses the booklet as part of a lesson in his classroom.

When customers occasionally say: "My water is clear, why do I need to know this.", Stockley says one of the company's "witty staff members takes customers into the restroom to show them that clear water is not necessarily balanced." If seeing is believing, then this demonstration is a water chemistry lesson they won't soon forget.

Safety On CD

NSPF's collection of aquatic safety writing debuts on disc.

We make decisions to do risky things every day. Driving a car, eating fast food and investing in the stock market all bear some inherent risks. Wise decisions are made by compiling the best information and then dispassionately weighing the benefits against the risks. The National Swimming Pool Foundation's recently published Aquatic Safety Compendium on CD gathers a remarkable quantity of information together that will help law firms, consultants, expert witnesses, larger aquatic centers with diving facilities and companies that supply these facilities make — and defend — decisions about water safety.

Dr. Glen H. Egstrom, editor for the project, assembled a cast of experts to write on aquatic safety topics that range from behavioral aspects of pool safety, to the role of alcohol and other drugs in safety, to the mechanics of diving, to a primer on swimming pool law and the legal process. In addition to the chapters presented on the CD, the bibliographies provide a rich additional source of research and peerreviewed papers on the subject.

Although a print version of the work is forthcoming, NSPF created the CD first, based on a profile of the likely users. "The decision to launch the CD is based on the demographics of the customers, who are more computer savvy and need to access information quickly with word-search capabilities," says NSPF Executive Director Thomas Lachocki. "They are often billing people in our industry and if they can find information quicker, we are saving the broader industry money."

The CD format also allows audio and video clips to illustrate key points and demonstrate field experiments.

The Aquatic Safety Compendium is available at nspf.org for $495.


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