How Wave Pools Work

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A Giant Super-clean Toilet

Robert Bochenski, the maintenance manager at Emerald Pointe, compares the "Thunder Bay" type of wave pool to a giant toilet. The pump system draws water from the return canal into the collection reservoir in the same way that a toilet draws water from the water line into its tank. When the water level in the reservoir is high enough, the system opens up the release valves at the bottom of the reservoir. This is like flushing a toilet: It dumps all of the collected water into the pool, creating the wave.

In this system, the water is constantly circulating. It moves from the deep end of the pool, out to the canal, around to the pumping system and back into the deep end of the pool. The return canal is fenced off so swimmers will never be exposed to the pumping mechanism.

There are any number of ways to configure the wave-generating system in this setup. In the next section, we'll look at the specific machinery used at Emerald Pointe's Thunder Bay.