Tank task: Gerry, the Atlantic green sea turtle, swims in his 25,000 gallon tank at South Padre Island, TX-based Sea Turtles, Inc. IPSSA's Texas chapters are embarking on a project to upgrade the sanctuary's plumbing, pumps and filters.

All 12 Texas chapters of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association are helping raise funds to give a turtle hospital a much-needed upgrade.

IPSSA regional director Jim Jacobsmeyer, along with a number of other association presidents, spent several days on South Padre Island, just off Texas’ tropical tip, where marine turtles are treated at a facility that could use a pool tech’s touch.

Sea Turtles, Inc., a nonprofit organization, rehabilitates 70 to 100 turtles a year. More than a dozen fiberglass tanks, ranging from 150 to 25,000 gallons, are operated by standard-issue pool pumps and sand filters. Time and corrosive sea water has taken a toll on the equipment.

Jacobsmeyer visited the facility several years ago and was taken aback by the condition of the plumbing. Last year, he offered to do a complete overhaul of the rescue clinic’s aquatic systems. “It was a natural that IPSSA needed to get involved in this,” Jacobsmeyer said.

Next step was getting his fellow members involved. That turned out to be an easy sell. Chapters throughout Texas have financed a recent mission trip of sorts to the island where Jacobsmeyer, along with Tina Lehmann and Michael Baker, respective presidents of the Fort Worth and Corpus Christi chapters, have assessed the property and drafted an engineering plan.

Because the facility is juiced by an outdated power distribution system, not all the pumps and heaters can run at the same time. Jacobsmeyer and crew plan to address that with variable speed pumps and solar-powered heaters to keep turtle tanks circulating with optimal efficiency. Jacobsmeyer calls it a “fantastic puzzle.”

“We’ll receive enough education out of this that it will benefit us far into the future,” he said.

He estimates $100,000 will get the job done and is reaching out to manufacturers for product donations. “There’s tremendous equipment on the market right now to rebuild all this and put it together,” he said.

He’s also producing a DVD telling the turtle sanctuary’s story and encouraging pool pros to contribute. He’ll be handing it out at upcoming tradeshows. “If it doesn’t make you cry then I did something wrong,” he said.

Money saved through energy-efficient pool equipment will help pay for the facility’s planned expansion. “I’m a marine biologist, not a pool a spa guy,” said Jeff George the facility’s executive director. “So when people say there’s a cheaper way to do this, we’re interested in hearing that.”

All five species of Texas sea turtle are endangered. Jacobsmeyer hopes to complete the project in April of next year.

For more information about the project, call Jim Jacobsmeyer at 281-850-4559.