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Hope for clear water fades but doesn't sink
VITAL TRIFLE, BY LAURI GROSS
Hope for clear water fades but doesn't sink
At the end of the summer of 2008, my kids and I began to envision a pool in our back yard. None of us was really interested in an elaborate in-ground deal, so we settled on an above-ground, 18-foot-diameter, round, 4-foot-deep, metal-frame pool.
We consulted my husband, but, from the start, he knew he really didn't have much say in the matter. So he issued the requisite, "Yes, dear," and we began our search.
Early in the spring of 2009, we made our purchase from a local pool-supply store and then set about readying the site. An electrician installed a light pole and power outlet. A local landscape-supply company brought in about six tons of sand. We read all about pool setup, assembly and care. We felt ready.
What follows is a tale of a battle lost, though valiantly fought, against sloping back yards and determined algae. Even as we recall the debacle of 2009, we remain optimistic for 2010 and are grateful that my husband never once said, "I told you so."
Leveling the sand was the first big challenge. We raked and leveled and raked and leveled and called in the neighbors for consultation and raked and leveled some more. We relocated about 50 volley-ball-sized rocks from one of our gardens to serve as an edge around the pool site, on the side where the sand was the deepest.
We covered the sand with the tarp that was included with the pool and began assembly of the pool itself. It went up in a snap and looked great. Next, we used a garden hose to put in a few inches of water to see how level the sand really was. Or, in our case, how ridiculously nowhere near level our sand really was. We had a deep end. We set about removing those few inches of water so we could move the pool off the sand, make it level and then move the pool back. Due to various issues I'd rather not recall, this took about a week.
Finally, with help from my kids and some neighbors, we dragged that pool off the sand, raked and leveled for an eternity and then dragged the pool back onto its site and put in another few inches of water. We were closer to level. Definitely not perfect but close enough. I ordered the full 6,400 gallons of water. When we saw the pool full of glistening, inviting, sparkling water, we forgot all the hassles of readying the site and looked forward to a summer of watery fun.
In a few weeks, the water didn't quite have the same sparkle. Regular checks with our pool-water test kit confirmed that the chlorine and pH levels were fine. Everything we read said to check those two things and change the filter to ensure fresh, clear water. We hadn't changed the filter yet.
A phone call to the store where we bought the pool revealed that our pump was not working properly, so, for the first few weeks our pool had been full, we were getting barely any filtration. I took our old pump to the store and returned with a complimentary new one and waited for the water to clear up.
Despite the cloudy water and the fact that early summer temperatures kept the pool water below 70 degrees, the kids were really enjoying swimming.
Around the time we installed the new pump, we decided we needed to vacuum the bottom, as it was starting to collect grass, sand and who knows what else. This did not go well. The vacuum did indeed suck up the stuff from the bottom, but very little of it was trapped in the vacuum bag. Most of it was instead forced back into the pool in a dark green cloud. So, when we were done vacuuming, the water was very green indeed.
Finally, at this point, no longer in denial, I raced out to purchase new filter cartridges and began a regimen of replacing them twice a day, feeling confident that I would prevail over the descending green cloud. My confidence turned to doubt and then concern and then, somewhere between desperation and panic, I knew we needed yet another plan.
Along the way, we continued to consult experts on the phone, experts online, and, all the while, our chemicals tested perfectly.
I found the green slime downright insulting, since, in my youth, I used to help clean our backyard in-ground pool and helped keep many pools clean in my years as a lifeguard.
We upgraded our pump yet again, to one that promised to filter all 6,400 gallons of water every few hours. I changed those filters daily. We started using "shock," a chemical that is supposed to bring a quick spike in chlorine levels. We added fungicide. And, when we vacuumed, we left the return end of the hose lying in the grass near the pool so that, instead of returning green water to the pool, we were pumping it into the lawn. Then, if necessary, we added a few additional inches of water from the garden hose. Basically, I became crazed and obsessed with this challenge, and, as summer drew to an end, we just about had the water clear.
But then it was fall, and time to drain the pool. We spent days scrubbing off the areas of accumulated goo before drying and folding and disassembling and hauling parts of the pool to the garage and parts to the basement, to await another season, still full of promise and hope.
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