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The Rio Pool – A Cautionary Aquatic Tale about How Fast Things Can Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Stop It from Happening to You


Tuesday, August 9, at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre started like many others have recently. Athletes and coaches were preparing to compete, fans were arriving to cheer on their countrymen/women, and event managers were working away at the thousand and one tasks that needed to happen at their facility so the world could watch a full day of world class swimming, diving and water polo. Well, maybe they were only really paying attention to the first thousand. One job seemed to slip by unnoticed. As it turns out, the tanks that distributed the chemicals needed to maintain the pools’ pH balance had run dry. And nobody noticed. Until things got green. Very green.

The entire viewing audience watched as competitors went from diving into what we traditionally think pool water should look like to a substance that resembled lime Kool-Aid.

Renowned news agencies like CNN reported that the problem was a proliferation of algae when the problem was actually something completely different.

Event managers were left scrambling to fix the problem in the water and also to fight an uphill public relations battle where people already had an equation in their heads that went something like this: Rio + Water = Dirty/Dangerous/I would not go in that water for every gold medal Michael Phelps has won.

Fortunately the water in this instance was not drinking water. No one was hurt. Officials were left looking incompetent and disorganized as they scrambled to figure out and then fix the problem. However, provided the rest of the events go without a hitch, they should be able to restore at least some confidence in their abilities.

This was a water chemistry issue but it could have just as easily involved microbiology. It’s not hard to have a laugh at the expense of the Rio Olympic people but the whole incident illustrates two points:

  1. Managers need to have an accurate, real-time understanding of the chemical and microbiological makeup of their water.
  2. Water problems can get out of hand quickly.

This is where LuminUltra’s solutions can help. Our 2nd Generation ATP monitoring offers a powerful combination of speed, versatility, portability, and accuracy for microbiological testing in any industry concerned with water. As the first line of defense for water managers, our industry-leading testing tools answer critical questions about water microbiology. And we do it on the spot. Check out our full line of microbial monitoring solutions.


LuminUltra Team

Founded in 1995, LuminUltra is a global leader in applied molecular biology diagnostics, with solutions and services that deliver accurate and actionable feedback in bioprocessing, biofouling, and biosecurity applications. With operations in six countries, LuminUltra serves dozens of Fortune 500 customers across more than 100 countries. At the same time, LuminUltra fosters a culture of innovation and agility, working tirelessly to deliver more value to customers. In recent years it has been on an accelerated growth path, acquiring multiple companies after forming a partnership with XPV Water Partners.  

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