With Governor Jerry Brown’s recent plea to Californians to reduce the amount of water they use by 20%, I thought it would be a good time to look at ways my pool was wasting water. There are over two million pools in California, and with the California economy recovering that number is steadily growing. This is potentially a lot of wasted water, and since Governor Brown requested that this conservation effort be a voluntary one folks are going to need an easy, and inexpensive way to reduce water usage in a household with a 40,000 gallon pit of water. There are only a handful of ways that water leaves your pool, other than using a pump to drain it:
Evaporation can account for an inch of water loss a day, but even on an average day, it is still going to eat up a quarter inch of water. Depending on the surface area of your pool, this can account for tens of thousands of gallons of water in a year.
The easiest way to combat evaporation is by using a physical barrier, like a solar cover. These thin covers help trap warmth, but more importantly make sure that the dry air and evaporation can’t wick away water.
In fact, if you don’t have a solar cover, and add one, you can reduce evaporation by up to 50% — 20%; goal met for your pool right there.
If the threat of manual labor, or the initial cost scare you, chemical solar covers exist. These pH neutral chemicals help prevent water loss by floating to the top of the water surface. When you use these chemicals you only need 4oz per 20,000 gallons, and you add it weekly. While I usually advocate against adding superfluous chemicals, I also advocate against manual labor whenever possible.
Leaks can account for a lot of water loss, over 100,000 gallons per year! It is usually a good idea to perform “the bucket test” as a part of your winter opening, and after you drain the pool for any reason. Just place a 5 gallon bucket filled 3/4 of the way with pool water on the steps of the pool. Mark the waterline inside the bucket and outside the bucket. Let the water sit for 24 hours and if the waterline has dropped more on the outside the bucket than the inside, you have a leak.
This test works by keeping the amount of water that has been evaporated consistent, any other water loss has been lost because of a leak. Once you know you have a leak, you will probably want to stop there, and contact a professional. In the past I have recommended professionals be used for most heavy duty pool repair, and this isn’t any different.
Using Your Pool:
Every time you get in and out of your pool, you take water out with you. With the amount of time and energy it takes to maintain a clean pool, I am certainly not going to suggest anyone stay indoors and out of the water.
You can reduce the amount of water lost by avoiding splashing water out of the pool, and getting out of the pool slowly. As you exit try standing on the steps for a few minutes to let water drip back in, and try to keep any splash fights contained to the center of the pool. Need a drink? Ask someone out of the pool to bring it to you — all in the name of conservation of course.
These water conservation tips don’t just apply to Californian pool owners; we all need to try to conserve whenever possible. Most utility companies offer incentives for reducing consumption, so check with your local water service to see if they have any programs or discounts. There is no reason you shouldn’t benefit financially for doing your neighbors a favor by reducing water usage, after all.
If you have any questions about water conservation, or felt like we missed any important tips, leave a comment below!