James Atlas, an 18-year veteran of the swimming pool industry, is the owner and co-principal of Platinum Poolcare Ltd., a residential swimming pool construction, renovation and maintenance company with service to several commercial aquatic properties including the Bulls, Bears and White Sox training facilities.
Platinum Poolcare Owner James Atlas came to the pool industry after three years of options trading after college, cashing in his chips to work with father Ronald Atlas, owner of Paragon Pools, a commercial pool construction and design company. An entrepreneur at heart, Atlas quickly started up an off–shoot company, Fountain Technologies, through which he designed and constructed water features for luxury residential and commercial properties.
When his brother took over that company, Atlas founded Pool Watch, a management company servicing recreational pools with lifeguard staffing, facility openings, closings and general maintenance. He sold Fountain Technologies and Pool Watch in 1994 and 1995.
Looking to broaden his skill set in the pool servicing industry, Atlas went back to his family pool business, working as a project estimator for multi-million-dollar waterparks, competition pools, high-rise pools, and other large-scale projects.
After a few years, Atlas began receiving consistent inquiries from residential property owners interested in pool construction and servicing. With his father’s blessing, Atlas took the reigns on those new accounts and formed a new company called Platinum Aquatech.
Again looking to go off on his own, Atlas teamed up with Terry Smith, owner of Poolcare Aquatech, another partner company with Ronald Atlas which focused on the service and maintenance. The two companies merged, with Terry and James owning a fifty-fifty share in 2007, effectively becoming Platinum Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd.
Platinum Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd., founded in 2007, and resulting from a merger of Platinum Aquatech, Ltd. (luxury swimming pool construction) and Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd.(service, repairs, renovations of swimming pools and spas), specializes in all aspects of pool design, construction and renovation with added focus on specialty aquatic features such as waterfalls, lazy rivers, rock water applications, statuary and other luxury waterscape amenities. The company also provides installation and maintenance services for its customers.
Platinum Poolcare has raised the standards of excellence in residential and commercial pools, spa and waterscape design and construction. We have a combined half-century of experience in building, servicing, maintaining, and renovating award-winning and nationally-recognized gunite pools throughout the greater Chicago area and other Midwest states.
Based in Wheeling, Ill., the company’s headquarters spans 10,000 square-feet of warehouse and office space with 46 trucks, 130 employees during peak season, and one of the industry’s largest onsite replacement parts inventory for quick fixes.
Platinum Poolcare has repeatedly graced the cover of various industry magazines, and has earned hundreds of awards for its designs. The company belongs to the prestigious, invitation-only Aquatech Society for professional pool builders.
Swimming Pool Opening Checklist
After months of cold and snow in many parts of the country we are very anxiously awaiting the warm weather and swimming pool opening time! So here is a checklist for your pool opening to make sure you are prepared.
1. Take Inventory
Check your pool chemicals leftover from the prior year; make sure they are not expired and that they have been properly stored throughout the winter and have not been exposed to any moisture. Make a list of any you are out of or running low on.
2. Check for Anything That May Be Broken or Needs Replaced
Check all of your equipment thoroughly, your pool filter, cleaner, pump, and accessories, make sure that everything is in working order and not parts or piece are broken or worn out. It is always better to take care of any issues up front before your swimming pool opening.
3. Clean and Remove Your Pool Cover
If you use a winter pool cover make sure it is clean before removing it. We recommend using a pool cover pump to remove any water that is sitting on the cover making it much easier and safer to remove. Sweeping any debris that has collected from the cover will also be helpful so it does not fall into the pool upon removing the cover and it is always better to store a clean cover!
4. Put Everything Back Where It Belongs
Often when closing your pool for the winter you or your pool man may have removed small plugs from your pump, filter, or heater, make sure they are all back in place and nothing is missing. If you removed accessories such as ladders, diving boards, slides or anything else replace them and ensure they are secure.
5. Top it Off
Add water to make sure your water level is where it should be at about the middle of your skimmer opening or halfway up your pool tile. If you have trouble keeping your water at this level a automatic water leveler may be something good to consider.
6. Spring Clean
Just as you would clean your house for spring, you want to give your pool the same thorough cleaning at the time of your swimming pool opening. Here is what we recommend:
Skim the surface and remove and debris
Wipe down your tile or vinyl surfaces
Empty the skimmer baskets and pump strainer baskets
Use your pool vacuum.
Check that your filter is running properly, service if needed.
Clean your pool deck and areas surrounding the pool, including your equipment area.
7. Balance Pool Chemicals
Adjust your pH and alkalinity, shock treat your pool, adjust sanitizer levels, add algaecide if needed.
8. Maintain Regularly
By keeping up regularly on your cleaning, and chemicals by regularly using a water test kit and making adjustments when needed you will enjoy the comfort of your clean pool all year long!
The Adventures of Splish and Splash
This clever series of games from the CPSC's Pool Safely campaign helps teach kids about swimming pool safety in a fun way. Watch all three of these interactive video games with your kids, and let them take part in Water Safety Month!
Click here to play the games
20 AWESOME PERSONAL SWIMMING POOLS THAT YOU CAN'T SWIM IN
from gadget review
We have dug deeper than any others before us to find the most incredible, luxurious swimming pools from around the world. From a swimming pool with a 1,000-year-old history to personal pools with secret passageways, we bring you the top 20 swimming pools you can't swim in... unless you buy them. Sorry.
click here to see the pools
The winner can also choose to take the $5,000 cash!
You can play twice a day, once at Platinum Pools' Facebook page: http://bit.ly/win5kpp
and once at Lewis Aquatech's Facebook page: http://bit.ly/win5kla
The promotion runs through May 25, 2013.
View offical rules here: https://www.facebook.com/swimmingpoolschicago/app_362630647175070
Hot Tub Safety 101: Chemical Storage, Spa Covers, Rails and Steps
from hot tub warehouse
Over few weeks we will be running a blog mini-series, Hot Tub Safety 101. Each post we will be covering a different aspect of making sure you are not only enjoying your spa to its fullest potential but being as safe as possible while doing it.
In this segment we will be discussing keeping the area around your spa safe for all who are near it. This includes ways to make sure you are storing your spa chemicals properly, the importance of spa covers, and considering rails and steps as an added precaution.
Hot Tub Chemical Storage
As with any other chemicals or cleaning additives, hot tub chemicals can be dangerous if they are not stored and used appropriately. First of all, chemicals should always be stored out of the reach of children, and always make sure that the lids are securely fastened. Spa Chemicals should be stored in a cool, dry place that is well ventilated and not in direct sunlight. It is important to ensure that the chemicals stay dry and no moisture is able to get in, this also applies to hot tub supplies such as aromatherapy crystals, like Spazazz.
Chemicals should never be mixed together prior to adding them to your spa water. Some people prefer to dissolve chemicals individually in a clean bucket of water and then add them to the spa one bucket of water at a time. This method can help prevent having chemical granules settle on your acrylic surface which may cause scratching of your hot tub shell.
As with all chemicals, hot tub chemicals can be dangerous if not used responsibly.
Hot Tub Covers are a very important element of hot tub safety, keeping your spa securely covered anytime it is not in use is important to keeping small children and pets out of danger. Spa Covers should fit very securely and be locked to prevent children from being able to remove them or slip under them. If needed it may be a good idea to consider additional tie down straps for your spa cover to make sure it is as safe and secure as possible.
Hot Tub Steps and Spa Rails
The area around your hot tub can easily become wet and slippery when in use so it is a very good idea to have steps with a non-slip surface and a safety rail for bathers to hold onto when entering and exiting your spa.
If you have shorter or elderly guests they will also appreciate these spa accessories as it will make it much easier for them to access the hot tub comfortably and safely.
Your hot tub is all about enjoyment and relaxation, having the piece of mind that the area around your hot tub is safe for those you love will add to both!
Swimming Pool Stain Removal
Several conditions can lead to unsightly and embarrassing pool stains, including acidic water, alkaline water, leaves, algae, or metal objects left in the pool. But because stains can occur as a result of a combination of factors, it's often a challenge to pinpoint the exact cause of the stain.
Stains in swimming pools are like stains in clothing. With the proper procedure, most stains, even the ugliest ones, can be removed. Since some pool stains are permanent, however, there is no guarantee that you will be satisfied with the final outcome when you try to remove them. For this reason, a topical stain test kit is recommended before beginning any stain reduction procedure.
A topical test kit takes the guesswork out of stain removal. This will help prevent you from attempting a potentially costly pool stain reduction procedure that does not provide satisfactory results. Before using your stain test kit, test your pool water and ensure that it is properly balanced. This will help you determine which stain removal product you need and exactly how much stain remover to use.
Also, if your pool is less than one year old, or is still covered by a manufacturer's warranty, you should check with the manufacturer before attempting to remove any stains. The warranty may cover the removal of pool stains, and it is important that the pool builder agrees with the stain removal procedure you follow to prevent having the remainder of your warranty voided.
During the stain reduction process, all pool heaters must be bypassed. The process will create an acidic environment and could damage the heating system. Most stain removal treatments are not recommended for older pools with copper plumbing, so be sure to consult a specialist if this describes your swimming pool.
Finally, it is possible for an old leak to resurface during a pool stain removal procedure. This is typically caused by removing scale that is currently plugging a small leak in the plumbing or pool equipment. In the unlikely event that this occurs, you will need to locate and fix the leak. The only way to prevent this from occurring is to not attempt to remove the stain.
Do-it-yourself stain removal products are usually an effective way to get rid of pool stains, and they are certainly easier and cheaper than draining and acid-washing your pool. Just be sure your water is balanced, use a topical stain test kit, and follow the directions on your stain removers carefully.
Dream Jobs: Man gets job testing water slides at water parks around the world
There are dream jobs and then there are dream jobs. One young man just found his and according to a report by WWMT News, on April 26, he beat out 2000 other applicants for the chance to test water slides all over the world.
What could be better than landing a job as water slide tester? Getting paid $34,000 a year to do it makes this one of the all-time best jobs ever. Seb Smith, 22 is the lucky man who just landed this incredible opportunity.
Water parks have become highly popular since their inception in the late 40s and early 50s, particularly in summer months and in warm climates. So popular are these amusement parks that most "dry" amusement parks have incorporated water-based rides into their arsenals to attract customers.
The U.S. has the largest percentage of waterparks in the world. With thousands across the country and more being built each year, Seb should be a very busy boy and that's only here in the U.S.
Check out this video from Therapaws from the U.K. Canine Hydrotherapy can have significant benefit in aiding your dogs healing and recovery rate after surgery or injury, increasing the chances of a successful return to full fitness and improved quality of life for dogs suffering with degenerative conditions.
From Therapaws website, which can be viewed here :
Welcome to Therapaws, Canine Hydrotherapy Rehabilitation Centre that is conveniently located in Bracknell Berkshire. At Therapwas we have a Canine Hydrotherapist in the pool with your dog at all times. Our mission is to offer a unique service to our clients and referring vets. Above all we will work hard to ensure all our clients are made as comfortable as possible. We make every effort to create a relaxed, enjoyable environment so that we create a sense of trust from both the dog and their owner.
Because Canine hydrotherapy at Therapaws is a form of rehabilitation, your dog may only receive this treatment with a signed referral form from your veterinary surgeon. In order for us to contact your vet for approval to swim please complete our form by Clicking here to download the client registration form. Remember to sign and date the form and return it to us either in person, fax, email or post.
It is important for us to receive information from your vets so that we can put together a tailor-made treatment plan for rehabilitation. In addition to your vet we also work closely with an ACPAC Category A Physiotherapist and the Galen Therapy Centre who also advise on swimming rehabilitation plans and land exercises.
A Natural First
Courtesy of Jesse Dutra, Aqua Magazine
Natural swimming pools – those that use biological processes to treat water instead of standard sanitization – have been growing in popularity for more than two decades in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Now, these unusual pools have finally landed on U.S. soil. In this special project profile, Massachusetts landscape designer and pool builder Jesse Dutra describes the first natural swimming pool installed in the U.S. using a proprietary system developed by Munich, Germany's BioNova.
In an age where it seems that everything's been done before, it's not often you have the opportunity to be the first at something. Nonetheless, that was exactly the case for the project featured here.
It's what's known as a Natural Swimming Pool (NSP), a concept developed and popularized in Europe by the visionary firm BioNova, which has been successfully designing and promoting these pools for 25 years throughout much of Europe. The firm now has operations the world over, including a North American division based in New Jersey.
Like many landscape designers and pool builders, I've become interested in working with "sustainable environments," and a few years back decided to become a BioNova partner. That effort recently paid off with this beautiful project on Nantucket Island, Mass., the first pool built in the U.S. using the BioNova system.
A Fresh Approach
An NSP utilizes biological processes that exist in natural bodies of water to maintain water quality. Basically, you set up a constructed wetlands area, which BioNova calls a "Regeneration Zone." This zone consists of plant material combined with layers of gravel and sand, fitted with an under-drain system. Here, beneficial microorganisms form that in turn process nitrogen- and phosphate-based compounds to prevent algae blooms and also prevent the development of colonies of harmful pathogens. In essence, the regeneration zone acts as a large biological filtering system, which returns treated water to the pool. (BioNova precisely specifies the system design using different configurations based on the physical proximity of the Regeneration Zone to the swimming area and other parameters. It's extremely important to follow their specs to the letter in order to assure safe and appealing water.)
Although a completely separate system, the circular stone-clad spa is visually linked to the pool and regeneration zone via a small stream. (Photos courtesy of Jesse Dutra)
The dark interior color of the pool provides a beautifully reflective surface accentuating the surrounding views.
To biologists, as well as builders of natural ponds, the science of biological water treatment is well established, but in the U.S. it's remained obscure to swimming pool builders. BioNova has garnered a considerable level of press coverage at home and abroad, including past coverage in AQUA, and it's fair to say this first pool in the U.S. has been greeted with a high-level of anticipation. For our part going into the project, we certainly knew it was crucial we make this installation something special as a showcase and in a sense, an ambassador for this type of treatment concept in this country.
Backing up a bit, it's worth noting this approach first took hold in Germany, a nation famous for the most stringent water-quality standards found anywhere on the planet both for pools and public water utilities. In that rigorous regulatory setting, there are now literally thousands of these systems in Germany and other European countries, including a number of massive, high-use commercial and public facilities. To the best of my knowledge, these systems are virtually algae-free and have a perfect record in terms of bather health. Approximately 20 percent of all new pool installations in Germany are NSPs.
To be clear, the first NSPs installed in North America are located in Canada, and there are now a handful of others either in planning or under construction in the U.S., including another our firm is just completing and another we are currently designing. The first-ever U.S. commercial NSP is currently being planned for a facility in Minneapolis by BioNova's North American and Global Head Offices and will no doubt be the subject of great public attention when it's completed this fall.
It's true this concept has been slow in gaining a foothold in the U.S. market despite its success elsewhere and growing consumer desires in this country for chlorine-free swimming and bathing, as well as for ecologically-sustainable environments.
The dramatic stonework is softened by the use of plantings that create a visual weave with the plantings in the regeneration zone, creating an inviting and tranquil setting.
The water does have a very slight green tint to it, and if you hold it in a glass up to a light, you can see small particulate in the water. That aesthetic concern and fears of waterborne diseases have made the concept a tough sell to Americans who, despite their reservations about chlorine and other manufactured chemical compounds, are accustomed to the "scorched earth" mentality when it comes to treating water.
One of the big advantages of this type of water treatment, and one of the reasons I'm so enthusiastic about it, is the very fact that it doesn't kill all microorganisms. Medical science teaches us that our bodies contain and are covered with all sorts of beneficial microorganism that perform a variety of healthy functions. In sanitized water, all of those life forms are stripped from your skin and have to redevelop after you dry off.
It's been hypothesized that this is one possible reason some people become more susceptible to illness after swimming in sanitized water. In that sense, naturally-treated water is arguably healthier precisely because it doesn't kill everything it touches.
But the fact remains that, from a chemical treatment standpoint, these systems do represent an entirely different type of approach and many consumers and professionals alike, despite the benefits, have remained skeptical.
That's a mentality I'd love to change. Fortunately, these clients were willing to give it a try.
A Green Scene
I had been working for these clients for some time doing landscaping on their property and we have enjoyed a fruitful relationship for the past few years. For a long time, they had expressed interest in a swimming pool but hadn't decided to go forward.
The "better half" of the homeowning couple was chair of the board of sustainability on the island, and she wound up making a majority of the decisions on the pool. Even with their "green" mindset, the NSP concept was a tough sell, in this case simply because it's the first one in the U.S. They were interested in the concept and after a great deal of discussion and research, including calls to English speaking BioNova customers in Australia, France and Germany, they decided to move forward.
Ultimately, they liked the idea of no chlorine and the aesthetics of the pool combined with the pond-like setting of the regeneration zone.
The property is typical of many in the area, very open to adjoining views of the surrounding landscape, which includes protected wetlands found throughout the island. There's a lovely grove of Poplar trees that would eventually serve as a visual backdrop for the pool, as well as a stand of Tupelo trees that abut a nearby cranberry bog.
Although very much a swimming pool, the design includes a number of organic elements that lend the work a naturalistic feeling. (Photos courtesy of Jesse Dutra)
This pool is known as a BioNova Type 5, basically one where the Regeneration Zone is separate from the pool. There is a small section of Regeneration Zone that I located inside the pool at one end where you can swim up to a seating area and touch the plants. My thought was that would've made it a Type 4, but the founder of the company, Rainer Grafinger, said that the area directly in contact with the pool section was so small that it didn't alter the Type 5 classification.
(For detailed information about NSPs and their differing configurations you can visit BioNova's website at www.bionovanaturalpools.com.)
Working with the clients was a perpetual process where the design kept moving and changing as we went along. We came up with the footprint of the pool and the Regeneration Zone, but many of the hardscape features kept evolving. For example, we set several feet of stone coping to let them consider the look before we did the actual installation. Those kinds of discussions continued right up to the final stages of the project.
The pool itself is freeform, 60 feet long and approximately 30 feet wide — 1,600 square feet with about 40 percent devoted to the Regeneration Zone. Aesthetically it has a naturalistic feel, but still looks very much like a pool rather than a pond.
The pool is set up on two levels to the pool from the Regeneration Zone. It has a modified arced vanishing edge where water flows from the pool and creates a waterfall effect as it flows into the Regeneration Zone, which in a sense functions as an oversized catch basin. The edge treatment on the dam wall is unusual in that it has stones set at intervals that function as a stepping path across the pool, while allowing water to flow between the stones.
The Regeneration Zone is not only central to the treatment concept, but it also plays a major aesthetic role. It's a graduated wetland with a number of beautiful plantings typically found at the water's edge in this region, including irises, cardinal flower, hostas, rose mallow, cattails, sedges and a host of different things you would find in the surrounding wetlands areas.
The Regeneration Zone has graduated depths and slopes to dry land in a beach-like effect where the plantings fuse into the surrounding landscape. A small wood deck extends into the zone, giving the clients a beautiful place to enjoy the plantings and water at close proximity.
The pool itself is in many respects typical of large, freeform custom vessels we see all the time. The pool, spa and stream are all made in shotcrete and use typical pool pumps, heating, lights and control equipment. It is in every real sense a swimming pool, not a pond made for swimming. It has a graduated depth ranging from three and a half to six feet. It has a number of benches and a set of wedding-cake style steps the fan out into the shallow end.
The pool is finished in Pebble Fina finish from Pebble Technology. We chose the dark color to essentially mask the color of the water, which as mentioned above does have a subtle green tint to it. Although the water clarity is outstanding, with a light-colored finish you might notice it. As it is, you cannot visually discern the water from what you'd find in a typical swimming pool. Besides, the dark finish only made sense given the pool was intended to be somewhat natural in appearance.
(We've noticed some slight variations in water clarity, which is expected with this type of treatment. As a BioNova partner, I've traveled to Europe and seen pools with white bottoms and to my eyes, the water in these systems always looks inviting, so it's all in how you perceive it. That's why it's crucial to establish realistic client expectations early on so they know what to expect.)
The pool includes an in-floor cleaning system to help prevent the build-up of biofilm, which can form with these systems and make surfaces slippery. It has a bottom drain, which is not necessary on these pools, but in this case we needed it to work with the in-floor cleaning system. And when the clients heat the pool, they can reverse the flow and circulate warm water from the bottom up.
The circulation system also includes a special BioNova tank filter that contains a proprietary geo-mesh or "fleece" that filters particulate down to a size that supports water clarity but also allows microorganisms to flow through the entire system.
The stone we used throughout the project is native to the area, typically called New England Field Stone, both flat and in boulder form. It was originally deposited by glacial activity during the Ice Age, and it is very, very dense. The decks, coping and the vanishing edge, which includes a massive sunning stone, are all finished using this wonderfully durable material, which has beautifully subtle earth tones.
In all, the project includes upwards of 200 tons of the material.
When combined with the surrounding landscaping and the bucolic setting of Nantucket Island, the pool looks perfectly at home. Best of all, the clients love it and are now beaming with pride that they have the first of these pools ever built in the U.S.
In late August last year, BioNova conducted its first-ever construction-training program in North America. For five days, partners from across the U.S., Canada and Europe gathered in Boston for the program, which featured a trip to Nantucket to visit this pool.
We had a wonderful day examining and basically celebrating the project, no small point of pride for me personally, my crews and especially the clients, who were awarded a plaque commemorating the fact that theirs was the first of its kind in the U.S. All new BioNova pools are issued a Certificate of Authenticity – and theirs was serial number USA00001.
As it stands, these pools will likely never replace traditional pools, but with more and more people looking for healthy and sustainable alternatives, my hope is that in this great country of ours, they're here to stay.