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Drought-Proof Your Pool

By Terry Arko

As summer looms larger the weather heats up and things start to get a lot dryer. Areas of California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas are seeing historically severe droughts. States, counties and cities are responding by implementing drought reduction regulations. Many of these are restrictions on the draining and re-filling of pools, as well as chemicals being used in the water. Below are some tips for pool professionals to help keep the water quality at its best and reduce the need for unnecessary or excessive pool draining.

Reduce Evaporation

According to the National Swimming Pool Foundation, 50 percent of heat loss is due to evaporation. In warmer and dryer areas, the annual rate of evaporation can be as high as 6 to 8 feet per year. When water evaporates, only pure water leaves the pool. Hardness and TDS are increased more quickly when the evaporation rate is higher. Loss of water and buildup of solids in the pool will lead to the need for draining and increase in chemicals. Many regulatory agencies in dry regions are requiring the use of a solid cover or a liquid cover to reduce evaporation water loss.

Manage Hardness and TDS

There are certain chemicals that will affect Calcium Hardness and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) more than others. For example Calcium Hypochlorite leaves calcium behind in the water. During times of drought, it may be advisable to avoid the use of Calcium Hypochlorite based shocks. Tri-chlor or Di-Chlor will leave behind cyanuric acid, so it may be best to avoid these as well. Any form of chlorine or shock will leave solids behind in the water. While this can't be avoided, it is best to determine what may lead to a more immediate need to drain and dilute. High levels of calcium and cyanuric acid are two primary byproducts that can be more detrimental to overall water quality. So, a better option for shocking would be liquid chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer.

Keeping Phosphates Low Can Help

Phosphates are a part of TDS, so if phosphates are regularly lowered then TDS build up will be reduced. Higher phosphates can lead to many water quality problems that could lead to the need for draining and more frequent backwashing. There are commercial-strength phosphate removers that are effective for the removal of high phosphate levels. To keep phosphates lowered and improve the overall water quality try a three-in-one product that has phosphate remover, enzymes and clarifier.

Proactive Removal of Organics

Another vital way to ensure quality water is to proactively remove the buildup of non-bacterial contaminants. This can be done with a clarifier. Efficient removal of organics and suspended materials helps to keep the water clear. It also ensures that other chemicals are free to complete their intended purpose.

Remove More Add Less

In drought times the mantra needs to be "remove more, add less." This refers to how the water is being treated. When using any chemical stop and ask yourself: What is this leaving behind in the water? Oxidizers, clarifiers and phosphate removers are all products that improve water quality while removing contaminants that can cause problems. Avoid over-chlorinating as much as possible. Be aware of how chemicals affect water balance too, and choose chemicals that are more neutrally based. Also, avoid cleaners and metal products that contain phosphates. As a pool pro, taking the time to be proactive and aware of how chemicals affect the water will help you get through drought times with minimal need for draining!

Terry Arko has more than 30 years' experience in the swimming pool and spa industry, working in service, repair, retail sales, chemical manufacturing, customer service, sales, and product development. A certified pool operator (CPO) and CPO Instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). Arko is currently a Water Specialist for SeaKlear Pool and Spa Products. SeaKlear is a subsidiary of HaloSource Inc., a clean water technology company based in Bothell, Wash. He can be reached at tarko@seaklear.com.