This page sets out the necessary elements for the training of Swimming Pool Technical Operators (SPTO) to PWTAG standards. The PWTAG Code of Practice is the core document, backed up by the PWTAG book, Swimming Pool Water: treatment and quality standards for pools and spas, the PWTAG Code of Practice and PWTAG updates on

This document is divided into two sections.

  1. The syllabus
  2. Assessment


Swimming Pool Technical Operator SPTO

This is what people studying for PWTAG-approved SPTO qualification should be able to understand and where appropriate demonstrate a practical ability.


a Types of pool and uses

b Types of pool tank and finish

c How swimming pools work - the recirculation cycle:

  • Circulation system
  • Filtration
  • Chemical disinfection

a Pollution from bathers - why people are the main source of pollution bathers:

  • skin scales, sweat, urine, mucus from the nose and chest, saliva, hair, faecal matter, cosmetics, suntan lotion

b Pollution not from bathers:

  • indoor and outdoor pools, dust, floating debris, grass, dirt (soil/stones) precipitated chemicals, sand from filters, byproducts of chemical treatment

c Pre-swim hygiene:

  • toilets and showers – the value of pre swim hygiene

d When not to swim – exclusion policies

e Babies and toddlers – swim nappies

a Staffing structure and management systems – their impact on water quality

b Health and Safety – the legal requirements

c HSG 179 – the written procedures (PSOP and method statement)

d COSHH – substances hazardous to health in a pool, chemicals and microorganisms

e Confined spaces – and its application

f O&M manual and schematic drawing

g Training – who, when and how much is needed

h PWTAG Code of Practice – Swimming Pool Technical Operations’ role in written procedures

a Design issues impacting on water quality

b Awareness of BS EN 15288 1 & 2, the design, management and operation of swimming pools

c Sport England design guide

d Changing rooms:

  • toilets and showers
  • baby changing facilities
  • floors in wet areas

e Safe access – including people with disabilities

f The plant room – location, size and access

g Chemical store

h Temperature and humidity

i Energy management

a Bather load – calculating the factors for safety and water quality

b Circulation rate – calculations

c Turnover period – calculations and alignment with PWTAG standards

d Hydraulic design – different design solutions

e Surface water removal – focusing on removing pollution:

  • deck-level
  • channels
  • skimmers

f Balance tanks – purpose, design and maintenance

g Outlet and inlet safety – the entrapment: PWTAG Code, BS EN 13451–1 and 3

h Moveable floors and booms – effects on hydraulics and water quality

i Circulation pumps – the principles, variable speed drives

j Valves – types, uses and safe operation

k Flow meters and pressure gauges – calibration, maintenance

l More than one pool – separate treatment systems

m Dye testing – why and when

a Clarity of water – importance

b Filtration rates – pros and cons:

  • medium-rate
  • high-rate

c The sand bed – grades and depths

d Underdrains – how they work, how they are best constructed

e Other types of filter:

  • bags and cartridges
  • pre-coat
  • carbon
  • glass
  • membrane
  • zeolite

f Backwashing – the principles:

  • how to backwash, fluidisation of the bed, air scour, the rinse cycle
  • strainer basket – part of the process
  • when to backwash – PWTAG Code and guidance

g Filter design – materials, sizes and fittings Filter maintenance – the annual programme

h Coagulation – what it is

  • how it works – agglomeration and flocculation
  • high-rate filters – and coagulants

i Coagulants:

  • dosing – quantities and rates
  • injection – where to apply

a Suitability and compatibility of disinfection types

b What is disinfection – in a swimming pool setting

c Oxidation – what it is, and does

d CT rates – an appreciation

e Choosing a primary disinfectant – chlorine, hypochlorite, chlorinated isocyanurates, bromine (soft water, hard water, costs and impurities)

f The chemistry of chlorine disinfection – an understanding:

  • how chlorine forms a residual – hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion
  • the effects of pH on disinfection – the values to pursue and why
  • breakpoint chlorination – understanding the crucial role of breakpoint
  • chlorine plus ammonia – urea, chloramines
  • nitrogen trichloride – its causes
  • organic chloramines – how they are caused, their effects and removal

g Free and combined chlorine - the relationship and target levels

h pH value - its influence on disinfection and the options

i Electrolytic generation of chlorine – the systems and applicability

j Chlorinated isocyanurates – when and how to use:

  • cyanuric acid – awareness of influence of residuals; outdoor pools
  • residual values – PWTAG guidance

k Bromine based disinfectants BCDMH – what it is and the residuals:

  • sodium bromide

l Other forms of residual disinfection and new treatments

m The importance of dilution – why disinfection and filtration is not enough

a When secondary disinfection should be considered

b The effects of secondary disinfection

c Dealing with Cryptosporidium

d Ozone – what it is, how it is applied, the pros and cons

e UV – what it is, how it is applied, maintenance and monitoring, pros and cons

a Principles – key requirements when dosing chemicals

b Components – the system design and infrastructure

c Dosing practice – where, when and how

d Hand dosing in emergencies

e Diluting chemicals – how and when to dilute

f Dissolving dry chemicals

g Dose strength – calculations

h Day tanks – use, construction and fittings

i Dosing pumps – type, construction and capacity

j Pipework – construction and application

k Valves and fittings – that may be incorporated into the dosing system

l Calibration – checking the dosing rate

m Faults – fail safe systems

n Automatic control – optimising dosing treatment:

  • closed loop – how the control works
  • sample mixing – representative sample
  • sampling – where to sample from
  • calibration – independent analysis of the sensor to verify the desired effect
  • sensors – amperometric, redox, pH value
  • controllers – the levels of sophistication

o Circulation feeders – what they are and how they work:

  • trichlorinators
  • brominators
  • calcium hypochlorite

p CO2 installation and dosing requirements

q Super-chlorination

a Source water quality

b Alkalinity – the effect on pH

c Hardness – PWTAG guidelines, grout and scale

d Dissolved solids – Corrosion, erosion and PWTAG guidelines

e Water balance – what it is

f Disinfection by-products – the health effects:

  • nitrogen trichloride – effects, monitoring and mitigation
  • THMs – role of humic acid, monitoring and removal

a Comparator and photometer – how to use them

b How to sample and test for:

  • free chlorine
  • combined chlorine
  • pH

c Chlorine disinfection:

  • testing frequency
  • disinfectant residual tests – PWTAG Code and standards
  • understanding effects of free chlorine on chloramines
  • interpreting test results
  • acting on chlorine residual results
  • monitoring

d pH value – measuring and checking:

  • alkaline disinfectants – effect on pH
  • acidic disinfectants – effects on pH

e Alkalinity

f Hardness

g Dissolved solids – measuring and control

h Langelier and water balance – measuring and control – in context

i Documentation and record keeping and storing test results

j Bromides:

  • measuring and control
  • interpreting and results

k Documentation

a Infectious hazards, including transmission:

  • gastro-intestinal infections – Shigella, Escherichi coli, Cryptosporidium
  • foot infections – verruca and athletes foot
  • skin infections – molluscum contagiosum, Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA
  • eye infections – including Acanthamoeba

b Non-infectious hazards:

  • respiratory irritation – including Legionella and asthma
  • skin irritation – bromine, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, folliculitis
  • ear infections, including otitis externa

a What goes wrong – definition of an outbreak

b Problems that have lead to outbreaks

c Dealing with a faecal incident – The PWTAG Code, technical note and NHS UK Cryptosporidium Reference Unit: Guidance for Investigators and Health Professionals:

  • solid faeces
  • runny faeces
  • procedure for medium-rate filters
  • procedure for high-rate filters
  • prevention
  • blood and vomit

a Sampling – must include chemical tests

b Aerobic colony counts (TVC)

c Coliform and E coli – potential faecal or environmental pollution

d Pseudomonas aeruginosa – the reasons for testing

e Legionella – testing for spas, showers and water storage

f Test requirements – monthly analysis

g Interpreting results – assessing microbiological quality,

h Remedial action

i Gross contamination and closure of the pool

j Quality assurance

a Material safety data sheets – provision and use

b Risk and COSHH assessment – the process and elimination

c Delivery:

  • access
  • unloading

d Bulk deliveries and storage

e Transporting chemicals

f The chemical store

  • siting
  • fire risk
  • spillage
  • ventilation

g Storage of disinfectants and other chemicals including:

  • sodium hypochlorite
  • calcium hypochlorite
  • chlorinated isocyanurates
  • sodium bisulphate
  • CO2
  • hydrochloric acid
  • sulphuric acid

a Servicing and frequency

b Calibration

c Daily monitoring and maintenance, fault finding

a Floor surfaces – dirt, slips trips and falls and bacteria

b Around the pool – PWTAG technical note

c Scale removal

d Pool covers – cleaning both sides to control mould and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

e Transfer channels and balance tanks – regular maintenance

f The pool bottom – particularly deck-level pools

g Moveable floors and booms – the need to clean under structures

h Stainless steel – preventing corrosion

i Inflatables and swimming aids – prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

j Safeguarding the fabric of the building – preventing steel corrosion cracking, pool grout, filling and emptying pools

k Algae

a The regulations – assessment, provision and use

b Harmful effects – the potential risks to health from chemical exposure

c PPE – what to use and when, use of MSDS

d In an emergency – what to do for chemical contact/inhalation/ingestion

e Emergency showers and eye baths

f Toxic gasses, fires and explosions

g Spillages – PWTAG Code and technical guidance (sodium hypochlorite)

h PWTAG Code and emergency procedures – chemicals emergency part of the EAP

a Commercial spas – definition and comparison with domestic

b Basics – loading, turnover, filtration, and dilution

c Hydraulics – water flow and air flow

d Inlets and outlets – the risks from booster pumps

e Disinfection – types, levels, dosing and monitoring

f Microbiological testing – regulations, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Legionella

g HPA/HSE guidance


A wholly written exam shall at a minimum cover a fair representation of the essential topics as outlined in the theory element of the syllabus (above).
Successful candidates must pass the final examination as evidenced by the mark they are given.


There are four basic areas of practical ability that can be taught in any suitable location, and should then be assessed in the student’s workplace, as part of the exam.

This should include:

  • free chlorine
  • total chlorine
  • pH
  • total alkalinity
  • calcium hardness
  • total dissolved solids (TDS).

This should indicate clearly (using arrows to indicate the direction of flow) each of the main components, including:

  • filters
  • pumps
  • strainers
  • automatic dosing units
  • monitoring equipment
  • main valves.

This should be of a chosen pool, in accordance with normal operating procedures. It should include an explanation of why and when this must be carried out.

This should refer to a chemical stored in the plant room of a chosen swimming pool. It should include identifying the requirements for storage, handling and use of the chemical.

Documentation of these tasks shall be provided to the pool manager, who must sign them off to show that they are based upon the pool used in the assignment. The PWTAG Accredited Trainer course organiser will assess the evidence presented and determine if the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge and practical skills and provide this as part of the assessment record.

The PWTAG Accredited Trainer course organiser will assess the evidence presented and determine if the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge and practical skills and provide this as part of the assessment record.