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A Journey of Water With Swimmers: A Case Study on Swimming Pools in Toronto


Today, water has become central to world problems, especially with the increasingly large urban population. From various parts of the world to urban areas, the shadow of the global water crisis hangs heavily. It is precisely in this nexus that Toronto, an international city proliferating, represents the challenge of the intersection between urbanization, climate change, and water resource management. Water infrastructure is an indispensable part of urban construction. When cities become more developed, the need for recreation facilities such as swimming pools increases continually. This paper aims to examine Toronto’s water system, especially the swimming pool system. Through the story of water management in this growing city, we aim to key into the problems of keeping water quality, evaluating environmental loss, and developing techniques for sustainable use.

In today’s development, urbanization is a leading cause of pressure on water resources (UN, 2018). Add to these the fact that the world population is proliferating, and you are left with the observation that modern cities need to experiment with how they manage water resources. In addition, climate change adds another dimension to the difficulties of water management. Changes in precipitation, extreme weather, and increasing temperatures threaten the availability and quality of water resources (IPCC, 2014). Identifying these effects is essential to formulate effective water management solutions.

Efficient urban water management must take a comprehensive approach encompassing policy, infrastructure development, and sustainable behavior (World Bank, 2019). A study of current strategies and policies can reveal how urban areas are coping with water-related problems and what the difficulties are. Then again, many studies have been undertaken on urban water management. However, you see only some devoted to the question of the management of water resources in recreational facilities like swimming pools. Toronto’s swimming pool systems will serve as an example to help fill this gap and explain water use in our lives.

Examining the problems swimming pools present to water resources in Toronto will produce some observations that can be used more broadly. The insights this study offers into the imbroglio water management for recreational facilities also hope to contribute to global policy and practice in sustainable water management in urban areas.

Literature Review

Both sides of the water security issue Cities are clearly on the front lines of the water resources crisis, facing the twin challenges of rising demand and overburdened water infrastructure. According to Brown et al. (2019), integrated urban water management, particular problems are posed by urbanization, which requires different solutions.

Add to this the uncertainties of climate change, and urban water management becomes much more challenging. Looking at the causes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2014) points to variations in rainfall patterns, changes in the frequency of extreme events, and rising temperatures. These all affect water resources, both in terms of quantity and quality. When cities are confronted by the twin threats of urbanization and climate change, adaptive measures are the key. According to the World Bank (2019), effective urban water management must simultaneously address policies, infrastructure, and sustainable practices. Studying successful examples of urban water management can help one understand possible methods for solving various water-related problems. Recently, several essential research reports from Smith et al. (2017) and Patel et al. (2020) emphasize the significance of community participation in building sustainable urban water management systems and local bottom-up management.

Although there is a great deal of literature about urban water management, research focusing on water management within recreational facilities such as swimming pools must be increased. Given this gap, this study will focus on the swimming pool system in Toronto. For example, the results of previous research about swimming pool water quality focus mainly on public health (Hlavsa et al., 2018), and more needs to be said about the more significant crisscrossing environmental and resource management issues.

However, as recreational facilities, swimming pools represent a different position in the urban water landscape. In addition to needing large amounts of fresh water to maintain them, the chemicals used and the wastewater produced create environmental issues. A study by Jones and Greenberg (2019) on the environmental impact of swimming pools highlights the importance of a systematic understanding of all possible environmental damage caused by swimming pools (both related to water and chemicals). There is much research on modes of urban water management, but the problems swimming pools present in the urban landscape still need to be discovered.

III. Toronto’s Water Infrastructure

The city’s water systems are crucial in promoting urban growth, and the many demands on water resource development created by recreational facilities (swimming pools are a good example) increase the challenge. The water supply and distribution network is a part of the urban infrastructure essential to Toronto. The treatment and supply of fresh water for City of Toronto residents, businesses, and public facilities is handled by the Water Department of the City of Toronto (CTWD). Lake Ontario serves as the primary source for the city’s water supply, which shows the importance of sustainable use in maintaining a clean and plentiful supply of water.

Such facilities add to the city’s quality of life and entice residents and visitors. Social places Swimming pools are part of Toronto’s social infrastructure. They offer leisure, exercise, and a meeting place for the community. Among the diverse recreational activities provided in Toronto, swimming pools are among the most essential. The city’s numerous public and private swimming centers are meeting a growing demand for aquatic recreation. The collections vary in size and are designed for various purposes, from community facilities to private gyms. But there are problems with the way each uses water.

In line with global trends toward health and wellness, demand for recreational water is rising in Toronto. The proliferation of these swimming pools throughout the city is also related to the need for physical fitness and recreation. Yet this trend also reveals the need for a more adequate investigation of water use patterns, treatment, and so on, such as considering the impact of recreational water facilities on the environment. At the detailed level of the swimming pool, we can examine a case to serve as a departure point for taking a deeper look at the question of water infrastructure management within the urban landscape. The unique issues that swimming pools face–fresh water, chemicals, wastewater, and so forth will be discussed in the following sections.

Challenges in Swimming Pool Water Management

Take, for instance, the water management issue for existing swimming pools, which is one link in the chain of urban water resources. These problems are even more pronounced in Toronto, which has an international reputation and is developing rapidly. This section delves into the various difficulties of swimming pool water management involving economics, the environment, and the science of water quality control.

Lechner et al. (2016) have described the swimming pools as being among the most costly ones in the world from a gym perspective. They consume incredible fresh water, chemicals, equipment, and workforce. But it is more trying once the plants start up since continuous monitoring and tight water quality control require never-ending infrastructure investment and operating expenses. Therefore, the study by Lachmar et al. (2019) argues, from an economic perspective, that swimming pool maintenance is indeed economically feasible and emphasizes the importance of cost-cutting management approaches.

The problem is that this large consumption of fresh water burdens the environment, especially in areas that already suffer from water shortages. The fact that Toronto is now in a period of growing demand for recreational facilities compounds this problem, and the ecological impact should also be factored in. According to Hills and Healy’s research (2017), recreational water use should be cut down and balanced by environmental conservation. We should develop appropriate means to consume less water. Chemicals include disinfectants and pH adjusters. Regulating water quality in swimming pools is a delicate balance. However, combining these chemicals with the organic matter left behind by swimmers generally produces toxic by-products (Blatchley et al., 2018). Besides putting people’s health at risk, it adds to the total chemical load of wastewater. This is why examining these materials’ chemical makeup and impact on swimming pool water management is essential for the World Health Organization. However, the chemicals used in swimming pools leave residues of wastewater, which require treatment before they can be released. Current methods Sustainable water management depends, in large part, on existing wastewater treatment processes for swimming pools. How efficient are they? Richardson et al. (2020) argue that upgrading treatment methods is becoming increasingly crucial in handling emerging contaminants and protecting the integrity of the receiving water environment.

Taking the problems of management for pool water as an example, one can immediately understand the need to take the overall perspective. Either by economizing or sound environmentalism, solving these problems involves solving the water quality maintenance system in recreation facilities.

However, the high cost of operating swimming pools regarding fresh water, supplies, chemicals, and wastewater treatment highlights cities’ economic challenges. However, Toronto’s experience is a mini-case demonstrating how resource allocation ensures that recreational enjoyment can hold its own against complete water resource management. These results are also at odds with international issues about the economic feasibility of maintaining water-intensive facilities in rapidly changing cities (Lachmar et al., 2019).

Those difficulties should be resolved on a comprehensive level there. In addition, cost efficiency can ensure the economic sustainability of swimming pool maintenance, water reuse, and recycling. Lechner et al. (2016) propose to comply with the latter ideas. In addition, state-of-the-art water treatment methods can increase the effectiveness of using chemicals, lowering the environmental burden without sacrificing water quality (Blatchley et al., 2018). In addition to those aimed at solving Toronto’s particular problems, these strategies should be interpreted as a model for all cities, particularly those faced with similar water resource challenges.

What happened in a Toronto swimming pool can be a lesson for managing water resources worldwide. Such combinations of low cost and sustainability will be compatible with changes in how people conceive of water, decentralized water systems, pollution control, community participation, and environmental protection (Smith et al., 2017; Patel et al., 2020). Looking at successful examples in other cities shows that there are correct ways to balance recreational interests with the need to protect water resources. This implies that policies that promote water-saving technology offer incentives for sustainable processes and educate citizens that all have the potential to work synergistically to generate an overall transformation of culture (World Health Organization, 2017).

Case study: the 50-meter swimming pool in the Athletic Centre at the University of Toronto

(data from an interview conducted with the facilities department in March 2023)

Chemicals are placed in the swimming pool to prevent these molds and bacteria, and the water quality is checked every two hours for aberrations. Hence, the maintenance for a pool (water, electricity, and facilities) is much higher than that for other facilities. These include sodium hypochlorite, which works against toxins, and hydrological acid, which adjusts the pH level, causing the universal swimming pool smell. Furthermore, sodium bicarbonate and calcium chloride are added to the water to improve water quality. The water circulation system depended on pumps and drains on the side and bottom of the pool. They provide for an efficient four times daily circulation cycle.

It should be noted that a complete drainage is performed once every five years in order to eliminate accumulated impurities. The relevant coded guidelines state that 15 liters of fresh water must be added for every person who uses the pool. This highlights the need to balance the interests of water conservation against recreation. Maintaining this facility costs a lot; the maintenance fee is $ 5000 per fortnight. From the perspective of the more significant problem of handling water in urban areas, this can be seen as a case study that lucidly demonstrates how swimming pool management is a high-maintenance activity.


This describes what happens in the development of the city’s landscape. We can use the example of how the water in public swimming pools is managed, as in the case of Toronto, to illustrate the challenges and opportunities inherent in the management of water resources. Swimming pools have become a particular focus of this study regarding the maintenance of the high cost, environment, and quality of water maintenance. Now that Toronto is on the path to becoming an international and high-growth metropolitan area, the results of this survey should have a reference value for both local and global water resources management practices. In this inquiry, we discovered some Twists and turns in keeping the water in Toronto’s swimming pools. The high cost of freshwater, chemicals, and operations has already brought an economic burden to the owners of swimming pool facilities and is becoming a severe challenge. Moreover, the practical impact of the consumption of drinking water and the use of chemicals, from the perspective of the environment and people’s health and ecology, is also something long suppressed that has been made visible.

We have also begun concentrating on the problem of swimming pools in Toronto to fill the literature gap on how to determine the total environmental and economic cost of maintaining water quality. One must develop plans for more sustainable water management in Toronto’s swimming pools in response to these difficulties. This could mean developing new water sources, employing cutting-edge water treatment technologies, and managing water more economically. Successful implementation will rest on close cooperation between policymakers, water resource management authorities, and facility operators. The focus of the issues raised is cost-effective management, environmental protection, and chemical use in the world’s cities. Sustainable water and environmental management As cities suffer under rising pressures on water resources, the lessons from Toronto’s swimming pools should apply to global water policy.

Lastly, this would provide a starting point for studying the problems of swimming pool water management in an urban setting. We can only overcome these challenges by tackling them directly. Then, one day, urban water resources will be sustainably managed, allowing for the betterment of the present and future generations.

VII. Future Research Directions

Studying the application of intelligent technologies in swimming pool management is a feasible direction. Using sensor networks, automated water quality monitoring, and real-time data analysis would improve efficiency and reduce waste (Andreoli et al., 2021). Whether such technologies are practical, how they affect water quality, and the effect on operating costs must be explored to find a path toward greater sustainability.

Participation of the people is an essential factor in solving the problems of water management. Community education and awareness activities about the responsible use of recreational facilities could be researched and field-tested in the future. Floating islands and eco-friendly homes: In addition to improving user behavior and decreasing wastage, assess the effectiveness of such educational programs in building a sustainable culture (Cohen et al., 2018).

The use of circular water management strategies in these swimming pools is worth delving into. This is variously closing the loop in water use, minimizing waste, and recycling water within the facility. Exploring the technical convertibility and environmental and economic performance of water recycling systems would provide recreational facilities with better guidance on sustainable water use (Maimon et al., 2019).

Doing a comparative analysis of the swimming pool water management in Toronto with other big cities would allow us to compare our methods and seek out best practices. Exploring how the various cultural, regulatory, and infrastructural conditions that govern water management differ in different contexts can enable cross-cultural insights and guide the creation of better and more universal solutions (Ryu et al., 2020).

A comprehensive and interdisciplinary methodology is needed. To explore these future research areas through technological breakthroughs, community participation, water resource management, comparative studies with other countries, and long-term monitoring, researchers will further enrich the discourse on the sustainable use of water resources for recreational use in the city.


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Blatchley, E. R., et al. (2018). Swimming Pool Disinfection: An In-depth Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(9), 4872–4889.

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