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Did The Pool Deck Contribute To The Collapse at The Champlain Towers?

Cracks radiating in the ceiling of the parking structure underneath the pool deck at the Champlain Towers

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Champlain Towers Pool - Did the pool deck contribute to the collapse of the building?

It’s been a week since the collapse at The Champlain Towers. The loss of life and devestation to the community of Surfside, FL cannot be calculated at this time. Workers are still scrambling against the clock and hoping against all odds to recover survivors from the deadly collapse. Almost immediately, pictures and reports began pointing to the pool deck as the possible source of the building collapse.

One of the initial first reports pertaining to the incident was from a resident who claimed that directly before the structure failed, that the pool deck was caving in. This news in itself came as a precursor to a damning structural survey discovered that was released in 2018 which pointed to numerous repairs that needed to be conducted, citing various leaks and deteriorating concrete as a necessary focus for immediate repair work.

Champlain Towers Collapse - The Pool Is Sinking Said Victim to Husband on Phone before Collapse

What Role Did Poor Waterproofing Play?

To get a better understanding of what role waterproofing may have played, we reached out to one of the leading experts in the pool industry – Vito Mariano, President of Basecrete and a recognized industry authority on waterproofing pools. Mariano’s company has been involved in over 90,000 swimming pool waterproofing projects worldwide. As an analyst, we asked him based on the photos circulating in the media what his take was on the incident. Specifically, did waterproofing play a role in the collapse of The Champlain Towers?

“Concrete is a sponge for water and it has to be protected, especially if it has steel in it. This is a perfect situation where water got to the steel – it expanded and once the metal in the steel starts to break down, you are going to get some deviation in the strength.” said Mariano.

New video footage released the other day shows what appears to be pouring water coming from the ceiling of the parking structure at the Champlain Towers, which validates what many have been saying – which is the collapse started in the parking structure near the pool deck.

What’s In The Morabito Report?

Frank Morabito’s analysis conducted in 2018 indicated a laundry list of structural repairs that needed to be conducted. Morabito’s report included major structural detoriation in the concrete slab below the pool deck, as well as abundant cracking and spalling in the columns of the parking garage.

Read the entire Champlain Towers structural analysis report from 2018

We asked Mariano if any particular shortcomings in the pool deck area may have led to deterioration and whether this is common in the pool industry.

“I do see this type of thing all the time. I get the worst swimming pool vessels in the country thrown at me.” said Mariano who explained that not all of them can be saved “Some of them have to be demolished and started from scratch”.

Many pools in South Florida are suspended between the floors of a building or over a parking structure. The need for waterproofing these vessels and the surrounding structure is imperative. Mariano explained that these types of structures are constantly prone to movement. “The structure has to maintain all that weight in place and when you get deterioration that starts, you never know… it’s a ticking timebomb”.

“Concrete needs to be protected from water, even if there is no swimming pool it still needs to be protected because you have hundreds of thousands of tons that are suspended and moving in the air.” said Mariano, “Then you have all these structures that are built on sand around these beaches. They’re all built on pylons. As we all know this building was sinking for a number of years.” continued Mariano.

What Went Wrong With The Pool Deck

The Champlain Towers had been sinking at an average of 2mm per year according to reports. In the structural survey done by Frank Morabito, his analysis defined the pool deck area as an instance of poor project planning. The flat surface of the pool deck allowed water to sit on top of the waterproofing until it evaporated.

Morabito’s recommendation was to perform immediate repairs which would consist of removing the deck waterproofing as well as the top concrete slab to gain access to the waterproofing membrane. The report stated however, that it would be impossible for full restoration and repair work on the pool corbel and wall repair work in the pool pump room to be performed. The survey indicated that “areas of deteriorated concrete appeared to penetrate deep into wall/corbel construction” and that “aggressive excavation of concrete at the severely deteriorated pool corbel could affect the stability of the remaining adjacent concrete constructions.”

The recommended repairs were going to cost approximately $15 million dollars. It’s a point of fact, that the process of conducting the repairs would have effectively shut down the building for a good portion of residents as well.

When discussing the overall cost of the repairs, ultimately it is the homeowners who were going to foot the bill. This year each resident had been assessed their fair share of the necessary repairs. On average residents were facing anywhere from $80,190 for one-bedroom units to $336,135 for the owner of the building’s four-bedroom penthouse for the recommended repairs in Morabito’s report.

The underside of the pool deck had cracks that were radiating and were fixed with epoxy injection. In the structural survey conducted in 2018, the report indicated that the application was not continuous and was evident of poor workmanship.

These images taken by a commercial pool contractor showed the most recent status of the pool equipment room.

A commercial contractor snapped some photos of the pool equipment room days before the collapse. These photos were released recently on the Miami Herald website. As can be seen from the photos, there are definite indications of major deterioration of the concrete structure in the pool pump room.

When analyzing the photos the contractor took and inspecting the deterioration, an analyst on CNN Wednesday evening determined that the photos of the pump room look bad but are inconclusive and was reluctant to say whether they represent a contributing cause in the collapse.

Cracks radiating in the ceiling of the parking structure underneath the pool deck at the Champlain Towers

In analyzing what went wrong, we asked Mariano, if this method of epoxy injection repair was correct. “You have to use a proper material to do your injections first of all.” said Mariano, “I would never use epoxy to fill a crack that is going to move. Epoxy is a very rigid material, you need something that’s going to elongate when it does move.”

Mariano recommended a waterproofing caulking and injection system for this type of application. “The failure of using the proper material will always create some damage in the future if there is any additional movement of water.”

Sadly, this type of incident is fairly common in other places of the world with lower construction standards. It is incredibly rare to see this type of structural failure in North America, however it’s not unheard of and Mariano fears that unless something is done soon, we may see more similar incidents unfold.

Many of the high rise condos in South Florida were built over 50 years ago. Mariano explained what troubles him the most is that the building standards and the quality of concrete were lower decades ago. “The stuff that they built years ago really scares me.” said Mariano, “These buildings that are falling apart were built 50, 60, 70 years ago, they’re the ones I’m really worried about. The standards then don’t even come close to the standards we have today.”

America’s $3 Trillion Dollar Concrete Bill

The problem seems systemic as these aging concrete structures become more and more expensive to fix. People have this misconception that concrete is permanent. The notion of long standing concrete structures dating back to antiquity often leads to a misguided belief that today’s concrete has the same strength or more. In actuality this couldn’t be further than the truth. Today’s modern concrete has a lifespan of roughly 50-100 years thanks to the way that modern concrete is reinforced. One of the most famous concrete buildings in America, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, cost only $155,000 to build in 1936… the cost of repairs in 2001 came to $11.5 million.

Mariano said the most troubling issue is ultimately that HOA’s do not want to pay for the necessary repairs on these older buildings. In many cases the residents are looking at over a hundred thousand dollars in assessed repairs and simply can’t afford it.

In a recent article Slate said that the dream of Florida is dead and said that the Miami condo collapse was a crisis for the entire state. A sentiment Mariano echoed when he described the issue of aging buildings and HOA’s who are reluctant to pass millions in repairs on to residents. The issue has many condo owners in South Florida concerned whether their buildings are safe or not.

As the nation speculates, the cause of the collapse is still under investigation as are rescue efforts. To date the death toll is now 22 people. So far no survivors have been recovered and approximately 126 people still remain unaccounted for. Impending weather is also expected to hamper first responders as Florida lays directly in Hurricane Elsa’s long range path. Concerns remain about the structural integrity of what is left standing. Rescuers stopped for 15 hours Thursday as engineers evaluated the remaining structure.

Listen to our complete podcast with Vito Mariano

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email info@poolmagazine.com or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to submissions@poolmagazine.com

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PHTA Reveals The 2021 International Awards of Excellence Winners

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Pool & Hot Tub Alliance 2021 - International Awards of Excellence

(Alexandria, Va.) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is proud to announce this year’s winners of the PHTA Awards of Excellence. PHTA’s International Awards of Excellence program is one of the largest, most well-renowned design competitions in the pool and hot tub industry. These distinguished awards recognize exceptional installations of pools, spas, hot tubs, and water features that showcase the most beautiful, creative, and innovative work in the industry. Each year, hundreds of entries are submitted by builders across the U.S. and the world.

The PHTA Awards of Excellence competition is open to PHTA members who are pool, spa, or hot tub builders as well as installers, designers, retailers, or service companies that receive payment for the submitted project. The judging panel is comprised of industry professionals along with representatives from related fields, including architecture and landscape design.

The award categories were updated this year to better encompass the wide variety of pools, spas, hot tubs, and water features being designed.

See below for the list of 2021 PHTA International Award of Excellence Winners:

GOLDCATEGORY
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Cascade Custom Pools, Austin, TXSwim Spas
Cascade Custom Pools, Austin, TXElevated Pool and/or Spa Structure
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXPools with Automatic Covers
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXGeometric
Cosgrove Custom Pools Inc., Rocklin, CAPools with a Vanishing Edge
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceRecreation/Leisure Pools
High-Tech Pools Inc., North Olmsted, OHCompetition Pools
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLPool Renovations
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLGeometric
J&M Pool Company, Senoia, GAVinyl-Lined Pools
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Shasta Pools, Phoenix, AZCommercial Water Features
Sunfish Pools, Jacksboro, TXFreeform
Texas Pools Inc, The Woodlands, TXGeometric
Tipton Spires Design Build, Houston, TXGeometric
Van Kirk Pools, Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge
Van Kirk Pools, Deerfield Beach, FLGeometric

SILVERCATEGORY
Acuarium Piscinas & Spas, Miami, FLRecreation/Leisure Pools
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXRecreation/Leisure Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
Cody Pools, Inc., Georgetown, TXGeometric
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTraditional
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FrancePool Renovations
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
High-Tech Pools Inc., North Olmsted, OHElevated Pool and/or Spa Structure
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLTechnical/Engineering Achievement
Lido Pools, Keswick, CanadaVinyl-Lined Pools
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXGeometric
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXPools with a Vanishing Edge
Southernwind Pools, Mckinney, TXFreeform
Southernwind Pools, Mckinney, TXGeometric

BRONZECATEGORY
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
D. Clugston, Inc., Apex, NCRecreation/Leisure Pools
D. Clugston, Inc., Apex, NCRecreation/Leisure Pools
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
Easton Pool & Spa, Inc., Easton, MAFreeform
lke’s Carter Pools, Oakland Park, FLPool Renovations
J&M Pool Company, Senoia, GAVinyl-Lined Pools
Paragon Pools, Las Vegas, NVSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
River Pools of Central Virginia, Warsaw, VAFiberglass Pools
Russell Pool Company , Baton Rouge, LATraditional
Texas Pools Inc, The Woodlands, TXGeometric
Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas , Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge
Vue Custom Pools, Greensboro, NCTraditional

MERITCATEGORY
Almar Jackson Pools, Inc., Jupiter, FLTraditional
Aquatic Leisure Technologies, Perth, AustraliaFiberglass Pools
Claffey Pools, Southlake, TXTraditional
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceTechnical/Engineering Achievement
DIFFAZUR PISCINES, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, FranceFreeform
Platinum Pools, Houston, TXTraditional
Superior Pools of Southwest Florida inc., Port Charlotte, FLPool Renovations
Superior Pools of Southwest Florida inc., Port Charlotte, FLSpas Built in Conjunction with Swimming Pools
Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas, Deerfield Beach, FLPools with a Vanishing Edge

“We were amazed by this year’s submissions. It is truly incredible to see the passion, creativity, and innovation happening in our industry,” says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President and CEO of PHTA. “We received 185 stunning submissions across 20 categories. The judging panel did tremendous work in narrowing down the finalists and selecting the winners. We are proud of all of our 2021 winners!”

For more information, please contact Janay Rickwalder, PHTA’s Vice President of PR and Communications, at jrickwalder@phta.org or 703.357.3918.
###

About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.

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Pool News

Aqua Dome Thermal Pool

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Aqua Dome Thermal Pool

Have you ever thought about going for a spa break? Spas are increasingly becoming popular among a wide range of individuals. Not only do spas offer a wide range of health benefits, but they also add a whole new charm to your backyard space. As a result, pool owners are adding spas to increase the functionality of their pools. One of the best spas you’ll ever visit is the Aqua Dome Tirol Therme Längenfeld. Located in the Austrian Alps, this thermal pool provides you with an exceptional vacation experience.

Aqua Dome Thermal Pool

Exceptional views offered by the thermal pool

A breathtaking landscape encompasses this spectacular thermal spa. Also, it has a luxury hotel that offers first-class accommodation services. The landscape consists of vegetation, glaciers, and mountains. Here, you can sit and unwind after a grueling day. This luxurious hotel also offers fine dining for all guests. There is a broad spectrum of the menus provided by the hotel. Moreover, the hotel features enormous domes that contain thermal water.

The Aqua Dome thermal spa is at the heart of a mind-blowing landscape that offers a serene ambiance. If you are looking for a short getaway to unwind and destress, consider visiting this place. Since the temperatures are relatively low in the area, the thermal spa contains heated water that allows you to swim comfortably at any time of the year.

The Talfrische outdoor spa

Another thermal spa in the hotel is the Talfrische outdoor spa. This spa offers exceptional views. The landscape encompassing the spa creates a tranquil ambiance that allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This spa features three bowl-shaped pools for improved aesthetics. One pool is a brine pool that brings a natural and sea-like effect to the pool. The brine pool has a sound system that enables swimmers to stay entertained even while in the water. The lighting effects of this outdoor spa make it look like a glowing oasis at night. Not to mention, the pool lighting improves swimming visibility at night.

The other pool is a massage pool. Here, you can sit and relax as you enjoy the movement of water across your body. The massage pool is ideal for people suffering from joint and muscle pain since it provides relief. Moreover, the massage pool helps you destress and unwind after a grueling day. The last pool is a jacuzzi pool. The jacuzzi pool is often used for relaxation and entertainment.

GletscherglĂĽhen sauna world

The Aqua dome thermal pool also serves as home to the GletscherglĂĽhen sauna world. This spa is enormous since it measures 2000 square meters. It features a broad spectrum of saunas, whirlpools, and steam baths. The sauna world also holds an ice grotto. The GletscherglĂĽhen sauna world undoubtedly offers incredible views in the area. It significantly improves the aesthetics of the area. Also, the saunas and steam baths in the GletscherglĂĽhen sauna world allow you to relax after a long day.

The Aqua Dome Hotel

The Aqua dome hotel is luxuriously furnished with high-end furniture and equipment. This is to offer tranquility and make the area more inviting. The furnishings in the area are also functional. Note that both indoor and outdoor spaces in the hotel have exceptional furnishing. Other than enjoying breathtaking views while in the pool, you can enjoy the beauty in your hotel room. So, how much does it cost to sleep at the Aqua Dome hotel? According to Trip Advisor, expect to spend approximately $365 per night when you sleep at the Aqua Dome hotel. Needless to say, these prices vary depending on the seasons. During the swimming pool peak season, the prices tend to be higher.

Each room in the hotel has its own balcony

Here, guests are able to enjoy the outdoor views for their own pleasure. Every room offers panoramic views of the landscape and spas. Thus, rest assured that you will enjoy your stay at the hotel to the fullest. Once you pay for a night or two at the hotel, you automatically access the spa. So, you can enjoy the spa at any time of the day.

There are different rooms in the hotel

Some are standard rooms, and others are suits. Usually, suites are larger and have their own fireplace. If you are coming to stay in the hotel with your family, suites are the best. They can accommodate more people. Even so, suits are relatively more expensive compared to alpine rooms. When you are a guest at the hotel, rest assured you will enjoy numerous pampering sessions from the spas and saunas. Ultimately, the best thing about this hotel is that you’ll never get bored during your stay. There is a broad spectrum of spa and pool facilities for you and your loved ones. Not to mention, the breathtaking views in this area will blow your mind.

The thermal spa and pools source their water underground. When pumped, the water reaches a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius.

Ultimately

This Aqua Dome thermal pool is undoubtedly a must-visit. Here, you can get away from your busy schedule and relax as you enjoy exceptional views.

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Pool News

Child Dies From Brain-Eating Amoeba in Splash Pad

Tarrant County Public Health says Naegleria fowleri likely cause of death

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Child Dies From Brain Eating Amoeba Found in Splash Pad

Officials confirmed on Monday that a child in Texas died earlier this month after contracting a rare and often fatal brain-eating amoeba at a public splash park located in Arlington.

According to a joint news statement from Tarrant County Public Health and the City of Arlington, the boy was hospitalized on September 5 with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an uncommon and often fatal condition caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. The child passed away on September 11th. According to the news release, no more information about the youngster was published in order to preserve their identity.

What is Naegleria fowleri?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naegleria fowleri is typically found in soil and fresh warm water such as lakes, rivers, and hot springs (CDC). It can also be found in unchlorinated or poorly maintained pools.

According to the CDC, the organism infects people when water carrying the amoeba enters the body through the nose. According to the CDC, the Naegleria fowleri amoeba then travels up the nose to the brain, where it damages brain tissue.

Brain eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri responsible for death of boy in Texas

Water Samples Uncover The Truth

Water samples from the splash pad were collected by city officials and sent to the CDC for additional examination. Thirteen days later, on September 24, the CDC confirmed the existence of the amoeba in the water tests and stated that the splash pad was most likely the source of the child’s exposure.

Arlington officials said the splash pad was closed on Sept. 5 after being notified of the child’s illness and will stay closed for the rest of the year “out of an abundance of caution.” All other public splash pads in the area were similarly closed for the rest of the year.

Records from two of the four splash pads — at Don Misenhimer Park and the Beacon Recreation Center — show that Parks and Recreation employees did not consistently record, or in some cases did not conduct, the water quality testing that is required prior to the facilities opening each day, according to city officials.

A examination of inspection logs at the Don Misenhimer splash pad revealed that water chlorination levels were not logged on two of the three times the youngster was there in late August and early September, according to city officials.

Arlington’s drinking water supply was not compromised, according to city authorities, and the splash pad is fitted with a backflow prevention device designed to isolate its water from the city’s water distribution system.

“We have identified gaps in our daily inspection program,” Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph told new sources. “Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads. All of the splash pads will remain closed until we have assurance that our systems are operating as they should, and we have confirmed a maintenance protocol consistent with city, county and state standards.”

Not the first occurrence of Brain-Eating Amoeba

The year before, a 6-year-old boy in Lake Jackson, Texas, ended up dying after he contracted the brain-eating amoeba identified in the water of a splash fountain where he had been playing. A 10-year-old Texas child died in 2019 after fighting a brain-eating amoeba for more than a week. She most likely caught it while swimming in the Brazos River and Lake Whitney near Waco, according to officials.

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