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The amoeba problem. What’s being done? A lot actually.

From Australia to Europe to Texas, Wave Pools are working as hard at crafting perfect barrels, as they are at killing bacteria…

Urbnsurf in Melbourne went to great lengths to ensure their wave pool water is near drinkable. BSR Surf Resort announced the work on their comprehensive water treatment is almost done.

Like most things wave pool related this is totally new territory. The innovators have to invent as they go along. If you build an Olympic pool for the public there are filtration standards and chemical measurements required for each liter of water. But a wave pool for surfing?

When Kelly’s Wave debuted in 2015 we saw a muck-brown perfect right-hander reel down the line followed by some stellar tube riding by the King himself. Collectively we could ignore the muddy liquid when there’s a perfect wave firing down the line. Frothing has a way of hacking at one’s regard for self-preservation. Call it the Stoke vs. Self-preservation quotient.

Regulations For Wave Pool Water Quality

When NLand first tried to open in Austin, the county insisted they meet swimming pool chlorination standards. Doug Coors and company tried to explain that this was a large pond of water, not a swimming pool.

Then tragically in September, Fabrizio Stabile contracted a brain-eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri at the BSR Surf Resort and died.

Naegleria fowleri amoeba

The Bad Bacteria

He had surfed the Waco pool a few weeks prior to his death the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was to blame.

The deadly amoeba is present in most freshwater above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (which rules out spots like Snowdonia Adventure Parc.) While you can drink water containing the brain-eating amoeba and not get sick, inhaled water allows the microbes to get trapped in the sinus cavities and travel up the olfactory nerve system into the brain. Once lodged in the brain the bacteria begins to feed on its surroundings.

BSR Surf Resort
BSR Cablepark has spent all winter installing a state-of-the-art filtration system. It’s a huge task as BSR water covers hundreds of acres

What Wave Pools Are Doing

Since the event, BSR Cable Park has been undertaking a massive installment of a new water filtration system.

The company Water Tech Solutions worked on a system for BSR’s sprawling 450-acre site over the past winter. The newly launched water treatment program will cover water quality at the BSR’s Surf Resort, Lazy River and Royal Flush attractions.

In a statement, BSR said the new system will exceed current regulations for recreational water parks.

“I am committed to holding my organization to the highest standards of safety and water quality,” said Stuart Parsons, owner of BSR. “I have hired the most competent water treatment firm in the United States that has experience in this type of water treatment. We have worked hand in hand with local and state officials to present this plan and it will exceed expectations.”

Everyone loves the waves at BSR. The one complaint we’ve heard is that the BSR water of old, which was dyed a blueish color, was “gnarly” and “alien-like.”

“Yeah the clear water will be insane at BSR,” said filmmaker Chris Monroe of BeefsTV who has made several trips to the Waco pool. “It was definitely a little sketchy before as you don’t really know why it’s that fake color and you can’t see anything submerged just inches under the surface.”

On the other side of the globe, URBNSURF detailed their plans for water filtration at their upcoming Melbourne wave pool.

wave pool machine
Recently installed in Melbourne is URBNSURF’s wave generator. Not shown is URBNSURF’s highly secret water filtration system.

“These types of surf lagoons are so different from public pools and the like,” said CEO Andrew Ross. “We undertook a global search for engineers to work with us to design and build our water treatment.”

The wave pool in Melbourne looks to debut the system when they open around Easter. But like with most wave pool technology, they have to be pretty secretive about their formula.

“In terms of how it works, we can’t give away too much. Suffice it’s safe to say it provides a lightly chlorinated environment that will give water quality that’s equivalent to Melbourne drinking water.”

The Cove test facility in the rainy Basque Country is one-fifth the size of the coming Melbourne Cove. And they use a highly sophisticated filtration system.

“When you surf in the Cove test facility and you get thirsty after 50 waves you can just dunk your face into the lagoon and drink,” added Ross.

There is such a huge variety of wave-generating technology out there right now. These are sexy, wedging rights and lefts and reeling square barrels. But as wave pools proliferate, it’s time for their prosaic, nerdier cousin – the water filtration engineering system. This crew is about to have its day.


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