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Records Are Lost And Pool's Green? Bennington Startup May Have App To Fix It

There are just a few more days until pools in the Northeast close for the season, but a startup from Bennington, Vermont that focuses on pool safety is looking to the future. 

“Are you having a hard time keeping your commercial pool chemicals balanced and logged,” an advertisement reads.

Scott Trafton and his brother Todd did…

“We own a campground in Maine with a commercial swimming pool,” Trafton says.

It’s Ocean View Camp Ground in Wells, Maine, and their struggle is not really a big surprise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of public pools do not meet health code requirements, keeping health inspectors busy.

“They stopped by and wanted to see the log book and they couldn’t find it because our pool is out in the middle of the lawn; essentially, the log book was kept inside and it got misplaced by one of the multiple staff that were using it,” Trafton says. 

Trafton made an app, called “PoolShark H20,” to solve that. It replaces paper logs for health inspector visits, increasing efficiency and accountability.

“It turns out dirty pool water sends 5,000 people a year to the emergency room, and this number is growing year over year,” Trafton says.

Trafton made his pitch at a recent Demo Day at LEVER —  a business incubator in North Adams, Massachusetts.

“Last summer, this was highlighted for everybody on the world stage during the Rio Olympics when everyone watched the diving pool turn this lovely shade of neon green due to incorrect chemical balance,” Trafton says.

It left some Olympic divers with itchy eyes and produced a strong stench of rotten eggs. It was caused by an unplanned dump of 80 liters of hydrogen peroxide into the water, allowing algae to bloom. 

A situation like this at, say, a YMCA or hotel chain could cause serious problems.

“Potential lawsuits, lost revenue and health department fines for the pool owners,” Trafton says.

Trafton says his app upgrades the current low-tech way of doing business and organizes data.

“Well paper, paper log books always have the challenge of, you know, you’re dealing with water so they are pretty easy to get wet and get ruined and that’s really your only legal record that you’ve been maintaining the pool for the health department and also liability reasons,” Trafton says.

Paper logs are easy to lose, and they can be backdated and forged. Using an app, information is time-stamped and stored on a cloud-based server so it can’t be lost or altered.

“So all of our staff could record the pool chemicals using the smartphone, which they usually have in their pocket,” Trafton says.

Many pools require a certified operator to put chemicals into the pool, and many lifeguards are tasked with testing the water periodically, so if there is something wrong, they have to track down someone to fix it – taking their eyes off the pool. The app calculates the chemicals needed, and sends an alert to maintenance…

“…without having to leave wherever you are and track down that log book,” Trafton says.

The frequency of testing and check-ups by health officials vary from state to state, sometimes even county to county.

Trafton, again, on the LEVER Demo Day stage.

“One pool may needed to be tested once a day and others need to be tested every hour. These logs are usually kept from one to seven years,” Trafton says.

PoolShark H20 is already used at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, Emmaus Aquatic Club, Pennsylvania, Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District, Texas and the town of Abingdon, Virginia.

Trafton has his sights set on working with Vermont officials for his next deal – the state is requiring commercial pools to keep better records starting January 1st

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