Guest Column - January 2009
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Green Aquatics: Eco-Friendly Pool Draining

By Terry Arko

Pool Chemicals' Impact

For those who are working in the swimming pool industry, it's important to understand the impact swimming pools can have upon our earth's water system. When backwashing or draining, whatever is in the water eventually gets deposited into our waterways. Some examples of what can end up in our water system when pools are drained include: chlorine, phosphates, nitrates, calcium hardness, high TDS, bacteria and protozoa, acidic water and salt.

All of these, individually or combined, can have a vast impact upon the aquarian environment, leading to possible fish kills, excessive algae, increased salinity and overall harm to the water. Because of this, many state and local environmental agencies regulate how, when and where swimming pools can be drained. It is the pool professionals' responsibility to know the local regulations for pool draining.

Many areas have strict requirements for lowering chlorine levels and buffering acidic water. Others do not allow draining into storm drains or gutters. There are even some requirements that forbid pool water from touching any properties other than the property where the pool is located. So, it would be against the law if any of the water from a particular pool were to spill over into an adjacent property.

Many pools are now using salt chlorine generator systems to sanitize. Pool pros should always do their homework and check the regulations for draining these types of pools. Some areas forbid the draining of salt generator pool water into their system. For example, Santa Clarita, Calif., was one of the first areas to develop a law forbidding the draining of salt generator pools into the sewer to prevent an increased level of salinity in the Santa Clara River.