For pool owners, fall is a time to get their pool ready for winter. Pool owners may be tempted to discharge chlorinated or saline pool water into the street and gutter that leads to a storm drain. However, the purpose of the storm drain system is to protect against flooding and water damage by quickly removing rainwater from our streets. This water is not treated and drains directly into local creeks, lakes, and rivers. Northwest Arkansas has ordinances and programs in place to help reduce the flow of pollutants into our creeks which addresses the discharging of chlorinated or polluted waters into our storm drain system.
Filter backwash water, chlorinated pool/spa water, and saltwater contain pollutants such as dissolved solids, suspended solids, chlorine/bromine and algaecides. Discharged water may also have too high or low pH for the receiving streams. These pollutants can clog fish gills, reduce fish growth rates, reduce resistance to disease and can cause acute and chronic effects to many species of aquatic life that may result in mortality.
Juan Garcia and Herandy Diaz with Burton Pools and Spas gave some pointers on how to get your pool ready for winter and help keep our environment safe:
- Wash your filter at a carwash. This keeps all the “nasty” stuff your pool has collected from going into area creeks or your lawn. The water at a carwash is connected to the sanitary sewer system and treated.
- Wait to drain your pool for winter. Waiting to winterize your pool allows less time for warmer weather and algae growth over the winter. This will require less chemicals when opening pool in the spring.
- Check your pool chemistry to make sure it is safe to discharge. Dechlorinate and check to make sure water has a neutral pH before discharging.
- Discharge slowly and spread water out. When discharging to a grassy area, give it a chance to soak in and not cause erosion down slope. Move the hose around so it has more chance to infiltrate. Especially for those with salt water pools. A buildup of salt in the soil can kill your plants and grasses over time.
For more information on how to safely discharge water from your pool or spa, go to www.uaex.edu/stormwater and download the Pool Resource Guide. Or contact Jane Maginot, County Extension Agent at Washington County Cooperative Extension Service part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-444-1755.