Is Swimming Pool Popularity Drowning Due to Drought?

As we head into the dry months of summer, California’s four-year drought deepens and water restrictions tighten. Thirsty lawns have already been dealt a harsh blow and the latest victim could be the residential swimming pool with pool popularity drowning due to the drought.

A few Bay Area water companies are placing strict policies in place regarding the filling of new pools as well as topping off or emptying and refilling of existing pools. Violators could face fines of up to $500 per day.

Many in-ground pools in the Silicon Valley were constructed from 35 to 65 years ago, during the 1950s through the 1970s. Now, rather than repairing them, some homeowners are choosing to fill them in, both to save money and conserve water.

It costs an average of $15,000 to properly demolish and fill in an in-ground pool. One local company says in the past year alone, they have deconstructed 150 residential swimming pools.

California’s $5 billion pool and spa industry claims it hasn’t felt an impact from the drought, stating the average swimming pool requires 32,000 gallons during its first year and significantly less year upon year. According to their in-house study, a 10’ X 12’, 1,200 square foot lawn drinks up 44,000 gallons each and every year. This is approximately one-third less water used by a pool versus a lawn claim pool companies. Of course, this depends on many factors, including the rate of evaporation and how much water is lost during use. In the long run, water experts state drought tolerate landscaping is a much more water-wise option than either a lawn or swimming pool.

If you already have a pool that you wish to continue to enjoy, using a cover to minimize evaporation is one key way to save water. Covers slow evaporation by approximately thirty percent. Additional water-saving methods include:

  • Repair leaks, as these can contribute to significant water waste
  • Turn down the temperature as warm water evaporates more quickly
  • If you have a waterfall in your pool or spa, shutting it off saves water
  • Manually clean the filter as the average backwash process uses between 250 and 1,000 gallons of water
  • Maintain proper chemical levels and adequate circulation time to minimize the need to drain or add additional water to correct an over-processed pool

Also, be sure to understand your local water restrictions regarding topping off your pool. And, now is definitely not the time to drain and refill your pool, if at all possible. Often a good pool service company can help clear murky water if you are unable to do so yourself. If your pool requires significant repair, including draining to fix damaged equipment or surfaces, you may want to consider holding off for one more season, as some weather experts are hopeful that we may have a decent El Nino year this coming winter.