Pool maintenance

How to be green with pool maintenance

As summer fades into fall, pools may be used less, but as any pool owner knows, pool maintenance season lasts year round.

Covering a pool every night is the best way to save energy, reduce evaporation, and limit the use of chemicals, but pool maintenance raises the biggest one-time environmental issues when pool owners consider swimming pool maintenance. drain.

Although some pools are drained on a schedule, pool maintenance experts have differing opinions on water replacement.

Many experts agree that draining is only necessary for repairs that require waterless access or to solve total dissolved solids problems. Even a super cleaning can be done without draining; instead you can shock the water with treatment, followed by vacuuming and filtration.

More eco-tips:

If you are draining your pool, check with your local public works department for permit requirements. Draining a pool or spa to the street, curb, or storm sewer system may violate the municipal sewer license separate from the Ventura County National Pollutant Discharge System, unless that certain conditions are met. Anything in the storm sewer system is left untreated, so it can go straight to local streams, rivers, and ocean.

Some local jurisdictions may allow drainage into sanitary sewers, but check with your sewer / wastewater service provider to determine if this is allowed in your area. If allowed, pump the water to a cleaning sewer or sewer connection, being careful to avoid flooding.

If your jurisdiction allows you to discharge into the storm sewer system, including the curb and gutter, the following steps must be taken to avoid the violation of the Ventura County permit:

  • Reduce the chlorine level to a maximum of 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and the pH reading to 7-8 before draining. This can be done by aeration, hold time and / or the use of sodium thiosulfate.
  • Make sure the water is free of algae and mosquitoes before draining it.
  • Make sure the drainage path is clear so you don’t pick up dirt, grass clippings or other debris.
  • A pool that has been neglected and filled with leaves and debris may require specialized filtration.
  • Do not drain your pool into a septic tank.

Special care is required for the drainage of a saltwater pool or spa. In some cities, it is illegal to drain salt water into storm sewers or the sanitary sewer system, and you may need to haul the water for disposal by truck. Contact your local public works department for permit requirements and prohibitions.

What to watch out for

Take special care to prevent the illegal release of pool chemicals into the environment. Avoid overuse by reading the manufacturer’s instructions before using any pool chemical.

If you own a fiberglass pool, take special care to maintain an appropriate pH level (7.4-7.6). Excess acid in a fiberglass pool results in low pH conditions which can remove copper from heating coils or copper pipes, causing copper pollution. If your pH is below 7.2, there is a risk of this corrosive environment in the water. Also, for algae control, use a hypochlorite shock treatment rather than copper-based algaecides. The discharge of pool water with high levels of copper in the storm drainage system harms aquatic life.

When servicing a pool or spa filter, it is a common practice to backwash the filter. With backwashing, used filter media and trapped dirt or contaminants are flushed out of the diatomaceous earth pool filter under pressure.

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Backwash water contains the same chemical properties as your pool water, plus any “stuff” your filter removed from your pool. This material cannot be dumped in the street, gutters or the storm sewer system and should instead be wet bagged and thrown in the trash.

In some cases, pool filters may have a PVC pipe causing the backwash to flow back to a drain that drains down the street or into a gutter. If backwashing your pool filter has the potential to spill onto the street, installing a DE separation tank can prevent the release of harmful pollutants into the storm sewer system.

According to the resource center of the poolcenter.com website, a DE separation tank can collect the used DE while still allowing pool water to return to the pool. The media used, as well as the filtered particles, will be captured in a tank allowing you to dispose of the waste in a trash can. The downside of separation tanks is that they have to be emptied after backwashing, and they tend to create back pressure, which reduces the efficiency of backwashing.

Commercial swimming pools should install an appropriately sized separation tank on the backwash line of any DE filter. The separation tank will collect DE, so it is not released with the backwash water. New commercial swimming pools must also have an approved connection to a sewage disposal system, according to Ashley Kennedy, an environmental health specialist in the Ventura County Environmental Health Division.

By following these guidelines, you are doing your part to protect your local waterways while keeping your pool clean.

David Laak is the Stormwater Resource Manager at the Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection District and David Goldstein is an analyst in the Waste Management Division.