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Image Credit: Revell Landscaping

No Australian backyard is complete without an area in which to cool down on a scorching summer day. Now available in all shapes and sizes, swimming pools have become the ultimate backyard addition, but how do you know which sanitation system to choose? Camilla Stephenson chats to Shawn Scurrah, the national sales manager for Hayward Pool Products (Australia) Pty Ltd, about the key differences between saltwater and freshwater pools.

There are few pastimes more refreshing or fun than splashing around in the pool with loved ones. Not only will installing a pool please the whole family, but it will also increase the value of your property. Alongside deciding which pavers will surround the pool and which colour
tiles to pick for the interior, the type of water with which your pool will be filled should also be on your mind.

When choosing between a saltwater and freshwater system, you’ll need to know how to avoid the dreaded red-eye sting of childhood summer swims, as well as decide on a maintenance plan that suits your lifestyle.

Freshwater swimming pools are becoming increasingly popular due to lower installation costs, while saltwater options can often prove less expensive in the long run. With assistance from an industry insider, Queensland Pool +

Outdoor Design explores the maintenance requirements, costs, and environmental impacts of saltwater and freshwater pools to help you choose the right system for you.


Saltwater and freshwater pools operate in similar fashions, with the foremost difference found in the chlorination process. Water chlorination is imperative to keep your pool safe from certain bacteria and microbes that can create an unhygienic swimming environment.

Saltwater naturally contains chlorine but requires a generator – or chlorinator – to break down the salt and release chlorine gas into the
water. “Saltwater pools generate chlorine for the runtime of the pump,” Scurrah explains. “Therefore it is the automated production of chlorine that is of huge benefit, [as you won’t

need to rely] on manual dosing.” The automated production of chlorine is becoming increasingly popular for its convenience, and many modern products allow homeowners to run their pool’s sanitation equipment digitally.

Alternatively, freshwater systems require the manual addition of chlorine; the amount of which depends on the size and usage of the pool. Freshwater pools are typically easier to clean with a quick dose of chlorine, which will minimise time spent waiting on technicians to resolve water-disinfection issues.

Water chlorination is imperative to keep your pool safe from certain bacteria and microbes that can create an unhygienic swimming environment.


Any swimming pool, regardless of the operating system installed, requires regular manual maintenance. To make sure a freshwater pool is clean enough to swim in, chlorine needs to be added almost every week to keep bacteria at bay. While adding a chlorine tablet is very simple, Scurrah says that “potential issues may arise when chlorine demand peaks [due to] heavy use”. This can lead to the unavoidable increase of maintenance costs in the summer months.

Maintaining a saltwater pool relies heavily upon the salt chlorinator. These automated generators are designed to maintain optimum chlorine residual, much like Hayward Pool Products’ (Australia) Pty Ltd AquaRite system with TurboCell, which helps keep pool water perfectly sanitised. Recent models include remote WiFi access so the entire cleaning process can be controlled via a handheld device.

Saltwater pools generally have higher pH levels that need to be regularly monitored in order to optimise the performance of the chlorine. For those short on time, automated pH dosing is available at an added expense.

As with freshwater pools, saltwater pools need to be shock-dosed from time to time in order to return the chlorine molecules to their bacteria-fighting state and leave the water clear and clean again.


When designing your dream pool, it’s crucial that you make decisions to suit your budget now and in the future. Freshwater pools are significantly less expensive to install than their saltwater counterparts, and this is due to the cost of the chlorine generator. However, the constant addition of chlorine to a freshwater pool will generally exceed this amount in the long run.

There are other maintenance requirements that will add to the expense of your pool, from pH testing to installing a cover. These measures are vital to protect your pool from harmful bacteria and the natural elements, and will help maintain a fun and safe family environment.


In comparison to saltwater pools, freshwater pools are typically softer on the surrounding environment. Due to the low salinity of the water, they have little to no detrimental effect on nearby plants and surfaces.

Saltwater can be corrosive to pool surfaces and create significant maintenance issues if not kept in check. If a saltwater sanitation system is left without maintenance for a long period of time, issues can arise in its performance and affect your entire outdoor space. Expert installation and proper equipment will lower the chance of

corrosion issues. “Lower salt levels can help avoid [the] erosion of pool areas,” says Scurrah. “I would [recommend] investigating [saltwater] systems that require less than 4000 parts per million for effective performance.”

Health-conscious pool buyers often opt for a saltwater system, which can be gentler on swimmers’ bodies. Saltwater is known to help alleviate respiratory issues and is less harsh on sensitive skin than freshwater pools, where more manually added chlorine is present.

With some careful planning and forethought, you’re guaranteed to achieve the best swimming pool experience for your family. With the above advice taken into account, you should be one step closer to deciding on the type of sanitation system that will be best for your new pool.

Images courtesy of Hayward Pool Products (Australia) Pty Ltd