It’s that time of year again when swimming pools and spas are being drained and prepped for winter. Please keep in mind that City Code does not permit the water to be drained directly to the storm drain unless the proper steps are taken.
Water in swimming pools and spas contains high concentrations of chlorine, a chemical that is toxic to fish and wildlife.
State law allows the discharge of dechlorinated pool water to the storm drain. If a homeowner needs to drain a swimming pool, fountain or spa to the storm sewer or to a location that will eventually make its way to a storm drain, the water must be dechlorinated prior to discharge. Since the City’s storm sewers discharge directly to local waterbodies, the high concentrations of chlorine in pool water, if not properly dechlorinated, can harm fish and wildlife.
To discharge pool/ fountain/ spa water, follow the instructions below:
1. Once the chlorination system has been shut off, or chlorine has stopped being added to the water, hold the water in the pool/ spa/ fountain for at least one week to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Chemical dechlorination additives can also be purchased at your local pool supply store and can be used to speed up the dechlorination process.
2. Measure the chlorine level and the pH in the pool or hot tub prior to discharging the water. Most pool owners use a pH and chlorine test kit to maintain the quality of the pool water, but if you do not have one, you can purchase an inexpensive one at a local pool supply store. The water should not show any detectable levels of chlorine, and the pH should be neutral (between 6.5 and 8.5). You may have to let the water sit for more than one week to achieve the chlorine level and pH required for discharge.
3. Discharge the water so it does not flow over someone else’s property.
4. Discharge the water in a manner that will prevent ponding which can lead to nuisance conditions (flooding, odors, mosquito breeding, etc.).
5. Discharge the water when it is not raining to prevent the storm drains from becoming overloaded.
Pool water can also contain copper from chemicals used in the pool to prevent the growth of algae. Since copper can be harmful to fish and wildlife, your local pool supply store can help you determine the best chemicals to add to the pool to neutralize or remove metals from the water before you discharge it to the storm drain.
Water from backwashing pool filters should never be discharged to a ditch, stream, or the storm sewer and should instead be discharged to a sanitary sewer.
If you cannot dechlorinate your pool/spa water, it is unlawful to discharge chlorinated water to the storm drain and it must instead be discharged to the sanitary sewer.
Make sure to properly store pool and spa chemicals to prevent leaks and spills, and store them in an area that is covered to avoid exposure to stormwater.