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A Swimming Pool Owner's Guide to Water Conservation

One of the commmon concerns we hear from customers is 'The price of water keeps rising. We pay for it coming in and now we pay for it going out'. We understand the frustration related to paying for water as a swimming pool owner. That being said, here are a number of suggestions, which in most cases apply to all pools, to help you shrink the size of your water bill during the swimming pool season.

1. Use a solar blanket - solar blankets, in liquid or plastic bubble, offer insulative properties when placed on the surface of the pool. When ambient outside temperatures drop below pool temperature there is an increase in pool water evaporation. Evaporation is the largest contributor to water loss in a properly functioning pool.

2. Avoid excessive pool temperatures - the greater the water temperature the more likely your pool is going to lose water to evaporation. If you prefer the pool to be 87 degrees then choose to heat it to that temperature when you plan to swim. Otherwise, maintain a moderate temperature such as 82 degrees.

3. Limit filter backwashing - For whatever reason the pool industry has suggested the unneccesary habit of backwashing sand media filters every week. This is not necessary and leads to excess waste water. A sand filter should not be backwashed until the pressure, as measured by the pressure gauge, has increased 5-7 lbs from normal (clean) filter operation. With some pools this increase in pressure may take weeks to a month.

4. Repair leaks - Leaks occur in pools for a variety of reasons. They range from drip-drops in the equipment to major leaks underground. Regardless, they all lead to excess water usage and wasted money. Have leaks repaired as soon as possible.

5. Limit splashing - Everyone wants to know who can do the biggest cannonball at the family reunion. But the bigger the cannonball the more water that is lost as it splashes onto the deck. Maybe try suggesting a freestyle relay race instead!

6. Backwash properly - There is no specific time allotted to backwashing. There is a little glass on most sand filters that is intended to provide an idea of how clean or dirty the water passing out of the backwash line is. Once the water in the 'sight glass' turns from a hazy, cloudy, dirty appearance to relatively clear the backwash cycle is complete.

7. Preserve interior surface - Liners, paint, plaster, and any other pool surface can breakdown prematurely due to chemical neglect or misuse. Following proper chemical balancing procedures will ensure the longevity of the pool surface which means less frequent draining of the pool.

8. Pool winterizing level - Under normal circumstances the water in a pool does not need to be lowered any more than 18"-20" below the pool deck. Lowering the pool water any further requires more water to fill the pool in the spring.

9. Emptying or draining a pool - is never recommended under any circumstances. All kinds of problems can result from draining a vinyl liner, concrete or fibreglass pool. Regardless of how discoloured the water may look it can always be returned to it's original state. Consult with a professional if you have problems!

10. Proper water level - the normal operating level for most pools is determined by the height of the skimmer opening in the sidewall. The water level should be below the top of the skimmer but not lower than the midpoint. It is not neccessary to pump the water down if the water is at the top of the skimmer opening.

11. Point return jets downward - As evidenced by the swirling, bubbling surfaces on most pools there is a preference to have the return jets pointed towards the surface. However, the rippling of the water's surface increases evaporation. And if you need another reason those upward pointing jets need to be directed downwards - they might also be pushing your automatic vacuum hoses away from where they are trying to go!

12. Collect water run-off - rain provides the only free refill source for your swimming pool. The surface area of your pool is a great collector. But if you want to really take advantage of the rainfall you should also collect the water run-off from your roof. Purchase an extendable downspout extension from a hardware store and run it to your pool prior to a forecasted rain.

13. Recycle water - certain winter covers collect water during the offseason. Depending on the quality of the water it can be recycled back into the pool. Similarly, automatic pool covers collect water all season long when the pool is covered. This water can be pumped into the pool during the season for top-up purposes.

14. Cartridge filter - a sand filter requires a backwash cycle in order to 'clean' the sand bed of debris. Cartridge filter cleaning requires taking the filter apart to manually clean the filters. Although this does represent more maintenance it does not lead to any excess wastewater aside from the water used to clean the cartridges.

15. Manage pool accessories - modern pools tend to include more accessories such as fountains, waterfalls, fan sprays, and laminar jets to enhance the pool aesthetics. These accessories should be used conservatively as increased usage will increase the evaporative tendency of the pool.

Bonus Tip - if you are filling your pool from empty as a result of a new install, new liner, fresh paint, replaster etc. keep this in mind - the total cost to refill your pool through your hose, even with sewer surcharges, will be about 1/3 the cost to have the same amount of water hauled to your home via truck.

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