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Conservation floating high at aquatic center

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Federal Way’s most famous swimming pool, known as a place for national and international competitions, has added environmentally friendly to its reputation.

New benches and a water filter made from recycled materials, plus water-conserving toilets and sinks, are recent upgrades at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center that are big on conservation and small long-range on cost, county officials said.

They noted the changes are important at a time when the county’s budget is stretched thin.

The companies that manufactured the filter and the benches did business with the county through its LinkUp program, which seeks products made from recycled material.

TriVitro Corp. of Kent made the VitroClean filtration system that processes more than a million gallons of pool water every six hours. The water is filtered through tanks containing 18 tons of 100 percent-recycled glass.

First introduced in the late 1990s, VitroClean has also been used in spas, ponds, aquariums and stormwater treatment systems.

TriVitro said it uses the glass granules instead of silica sand because they weigh less per cubic foot, produce clearer water and need to be replaced less often than sand (seven years versus five years). The latter benefit saves money.

Three blue, four-person benches made from heavy-duty molded, recycled plastic were installed last week outside the aquatic center’s front doors. MetaMorf Design, located in Bellingham, designed and built the benches from material that comes from curbside recycling. When they need to be replaced, the benches themselves can be recycled and used again.

Colin Reedy, president of MetaMorf, this month received first-place awards for his bench designs at the International Design Resources Award competition in Japan. The contest was for products using recycled and environmentally friendly materials.

When they aren’t swimming, watching other people in the pool or using the benches, center visitors might avail themselves of 83 new water-conserving plumbing fixtures that were installed this summer. They include low-flow toilets, waterless and low-flow urinals, and timed low-flow faucets. Fourteen low-flow showers will be added later. The combined saving of water is expected by county officials to exceed two million gallons a year –– enough to fill the Olympic-size pool twice. And the water bill will be reduced by an estimated $10,000 a year.

Eventually, all county-operated pools (eight) and high-use parks will also have low-flow toilets and faucets and timed showers, officials said.

Each of the toilets can save about three gallons of water per flush. In addition, they’re easy to maintain and are as efficient as fixtures that use more water, officials said.

County Executive Ron Sims said the benches, plumbing and pool filter “enhance the experience of swimmers” while also helping the county with its budget constraints.

“The improvements show how we can accomplish our dual goals of cutting costs and conserving natural resources,“ he said.

The aquatic center is one of only three swimming facilities in the U.S. recognized as a world-class venue for competition. National and international competitors have participated there in diving and synchronized swimming, including Olympic trials.

The center, which also hosts local competitions, plus open swims and swimming lessons, is one of a handful of large regional facilities on which the county is focusing its recreation money.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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