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Deconstructing a Trap
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Deconstructing a Trap

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

For the most part, we keep things positive in the pages of WaterShapes, and for good reason: With so much inspiring and amazing work taking place every day in all corners of the watershaping trades, negative subjects seldom rise to a level that necessitates coverage.

In some cases, however, there are topics that cannot be avoided, and I can’t think of a stronger example than the troubling persistence of suction-entrapment incidents. Although rare by any measure – just a handful of incidents annually among millions of swimming pools and spas in everyday use – when lightning strikes and someone drowns or is injured by becoming trapped on a drain, the outcomes are so sad and awful that is incumbent upon all of us to do everything we can to find workable solutions.

Very much on point, we offer “Reasonable Choices” by William N. Rowley, PhD, as a thoughtful point of departure for future discussions of this difficult subject (click here). A mechanical engineer and designer of commercial pools and spas, Rowley has a resume that spans nearly four decades and includes work on many of the world’s premier aquatic facilities.

Concerned with the safety of his own designs as well as those of the industry at large, Rowley has long dedicated his considerable talent and discipline to the study of suction entrapment and has been a key player in code writing with many of the organizations and regulatory agencies that have sought to develop approaches to eliminating these incidents once and for all.

In his article, Rowley argues in favor of applying the science of hydraulics as well as a dose of common sense in developing solutions tailored to the needs of all designers and contractors who must grapple with this issue. In the process, he draws on his own experience as well as a range of significant resources. It is, in short, a definitive treatment of the topic that commands full and immediate attention.

To be sure, suction entrapment is a difficult, controversial issue, and we at WaterShapes are aware that there are others out there who may choose to disagree with some of what Rowley has to say. Knowing that, we encourage those with other points of view to join the discussion and deepen our understanding.

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I’d also like to point out two addition articles – more upbeat, certainly, but no less informative.

The first is “A Recipe for Jambalaya” by Louisiana watershaper Les Ewen (click here). It’s about his efforts to restore two decorative watershapes that were intended to reclaim an abandoned sewage-treatment facility – an unusual project, but one that points out how watershaping can turn literal eyesores into works of art.

Then there’s “Back to the Fair” by Mike Friedman and Terry Perkowski (click here), a restoration story of an entirely different sort. These fountain experts undertook the renovation and upgrading of two beautiful facilities created for St. Louis’ historic Forest Park – site of the 1904 World’s Fair – and demonstrate what’s involved in respecting civic heritage while making facilities much more appealing and useful in the here and now.

Although this pair of features recounts projects that are quite disparate in nature, there’s a powerful common ground here in the potential of watershapes to express and celebrate the character and history of their surroundings.

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