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Homeowners Urged To Properly Maintain Pools to Save Water



AUBURN, Calif. - As critical drought conditions continue, Placer County Water Agency and the state's pool association are urging homeowners to properly maintain their pools, which will greatly reduce the amount of water used.

California Pool and Spa Association members and PCWA officials recently discussed the drought - and the effect of swimming pools on the water supply. Certainly, pools demand a lot of water but generally not as much as thirsty gardens or many lawns, according to independent studies.

PCWA and the pool association are asking pool owners - including businesses, government agencies and homeowners - to maintain their pools, critical in the effort to save as much water as possible.

"A properly maintained pool can make a big difference in the amount of water used," said PCWA Deputy Director Linda Yager. "Pools need to be carefully watched for leaks and there are a number of easy things homeowners can do to lessen the loss of water from their pools."

In fact, an average-size swimming pool often needs less water than a backyard lawn. And even a newly completed residential swimming pool will demand less water during the first year compared to a lawn - about 26,250 gallons versus 30,000 gallons for the same area of grass, according to independent studies.

"Even the first year, it will save some water compared to a lawn," said Keith Harbeck, chief executive officer of Premier Pools in Sacramento. "And once the pool is in, it will save a lot more water every year. Pools are a lot more green-friendly than they used to be."

Mark Callantine, owner of Extra Mile Pool Care in Orangevale, agrees and adds "there are a lot of misperceptions out there" about pools being major water wasters.

Those misperceptions create a difficult situation for water agencies, Harbeck said.

"It's hard for a water agency when you're asking a homeowner to water their lawn only a couple times a week and your next-door neighbor is building a new pool," he said.

The California Pool and Spa Association urges pool owners to maintain their swimming pools, including checking for leaks - a major water waster - and using the proper balance of chemicals to extend water life.

If the auto-fill feature is automatically turning on more than normal or you're using more chemicals than usual, chances are the pool could have a leak. About 90 percent of leaks are easy fixes connected to the pool light or skimmer, Callantine said.

Other helpful tips from the state association to save water:

  • Install a pool cover to reduce evaporation. Most pools will lose less than 10 gallons of water per week during the summer, even without a cover, Callantine said.
  • A chemical blanket will help the pool better hold chemicals and preserve water, Harbeck said.
  • Shut off fountains and waterfalls to reduce water loss.
  • Stop splashing. Tell swimmers, especially cannonball lovers, to go easy and save water. Although Harbeck admits that this is a difficult request, since pools are built for fun - and splashing.
  • Lower the water level in the pool, reducing the amount of water "splashed" out.
  • Plug the overflow line when the pool is being used. 
  • Replace sand and diatomaceous earth filters with cartridge filters that do not require backwashing.
  • A clean pool greatly reduces the need for backwashing or emptying. A pool can go several years before needing to be emptied, Callantine said.
  • If you have a heated pool, lower the water temperature to reduce evaporation.

The California Pool and Spa Association began an aggressive advertising campaign on the importance of pool maintenance just before the Memorial Day weekend. The association is educating residents about how much water lawns and swimming pools use.

For more information about the drought and water saving actions that you can take at your home, check out pcwa.net or follow PCWA on Twitter at @PlacerWater.

About Placer County Water Agency

Placer County Water Agency is the primary water resource agency for Placer County, California. PCWA carries out a broad range of responsibilities including water resource planning and management, retail and wholesale supply of irrigation water and drinking water and production of hydroelectric energy in Placer County's 1,500 square mile area.  Created in 1957 under its own state legislative Act entitled the "Placer County Water Agency Act," PCWA is self-governed with policy and regulatory decisions determined by an independently elected five member Board of Directors. For more water saving ideas, please visit www.pcwa.net

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