The recent monstrous Mallee dust storms have led to an influx of Victorian swimming pool owners seeking a fix for their brown pools, resulting in a temporary chemical shortage.
The most sought-after chemicals were flocculant and clarifiers.
Retail outlets in Melbourne were inundated, with one shop SPLASH! spoke to having 1200 people through the door in three days.
“These have been the busiest days in the pool shop in twenty years,” says Chris Gaskell, owner of northwest Melbourne franchise Swimart Balwyn.
“It’s all this Mallee dust coming down in the duststorm. Every pool in my area has turned into the Yarra – in fact, the Yarra looks clearer than the pools!”
Gaskell says this happened once before in the very early 2000s, but his father – who has been in the industry for 40 years – can only remember it happening twice before in all that time.
When SPLASH! spoke with him last week he said pool chemicals from all suppliers were running low, with many out of stock and retailers frantically trying to reorder.
“I drove to two suppliers on Wednesday morning to get chemicals on the truck, and we also had two deliveries that day as well, and we still ran out of stock.”
On the Friday before the Australia Day long weekend, he again went to the suppliers to pick up chemicals and fortunately had two chemical deliveries from LoChlor, but what he had in stock was all he had for the long weekend.
More than 1200 people went through the shop between Thursday and Saturday.
Clearing the dust
Of the two ways to handle dust in the pools, the easiest is to add floc and then vacuum to waste.
“But as there’s no floc available they’re using chlorine, phosphate remover and clarifying agents, waiting till the pool goes clear and then giving it a backwash,” says Gaskell.
“Then they’re left with a layer of sediment in the pool which they have to vacuum to waste.”
He says the other important thing to consider thing is that the rate the pool will get clean depends on when the filter media has been changed.
“If they haven’t changed the sand in their filter for ten years, it’s going to be really slow to clean the pool.”
They also sold out of vacuum heads and hoses.
“People with infloor cleaning systems don’t have the manual vacuum equipment, and we’re telling them to vacuum to waste, so they have to come in and get the manual heads and hoses.”
Gaskell put together a kit with three chemicals and instructions, based on what he had available. It includes a kilo of chlorine, a litre of phosphate remover and a litre of clarifying agent.
“I do have some floc,” he says. “But I’ve got 400 regular customers and I’ve got to use what I have for their pools.
“My own personal pool at home is orange and I haven’t had a chance to fix it yet. The kids are yelling at me to fix it but I won’t get a chance till after Australia Day. It’s just too busy.”
Caption: 1200 people went through Swimart Balwyn from the Thursday to Saturday prior to Australia Day