Make your pool a mini reservoir

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By Staff Reporter Time of article publishedDec 26, 2015

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Cape Town – South Africa is experiencing one of its driest periods in history.

With many provinces now under tough water restrictions, pool owners are being called on to change behaviours and critically examine their pool’s water footprint and water-saving practices.

While tanks and boreholes enable a self-sufficient alternative when it comes to water for home usage, many homeowners overlook their existing water storage solution – the swimming pool.

According to a press release, homeowners don’t always turn to pool water for domestic use as the chlorine content can make it unsuitable to use. The one alternative is to stop chemical treatments but the pool quickly turns green and unsightly, and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The better solution is a pool cover that allows for reduced chlorine input while maintaining water hygiene at a level that makes the water suitable for use in the kitchen and bathroom.

“It sounds too good to be true – a pool receiving minimal filtration and chemicals yet still yielding water clean enough for use in the house, but it can be done! The principle is quite simple. Algae thrives on light. If you block out the light with a dark-coloured pool cover, the algae dies off. Without the algae, chemical input can then be scaled back considerably. This effectively creates a water supply to fall back on when you have reached your allowance from municipal sources and are facing heaving fines,” says Carolyn Idas of PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

“Our tests show that with a dark-coloured thermal pool cover, filtration can be reduced by 50percent without the water hygiene being compromised – an added bonus when one considers South Africa’s need to save power as well as water.”

The other factor to consider is actually keeping the water in the pool. In typical conditions, for every square meter of water surface, the average pool will lose a meter of water to evaporation over a year. Pool covers instantly reduce evaporation by over 98percent.

“Our climate is becoming drier and we need to become more practical and innovative in the long term. Pools aren’t just a source of fun and exercise any more. Think of a covered pool as your own mini reservoir and emergency water supply,” says Idas.

If child safety is of concern, one can still scale back chemicals, filtration and prevent water evaporation by using a solid safety cover that forms a complete barrier over the water and prevents all access by children. A thermal pool cover / pool blanket that lies directly on the water should not be considered a cover for child drowning prevention.

The water and power crises have seen many homeowners emptying their pool entirely. This is never ideal as an empty pool quickly deteriorates and is one of the leading causes of depreciation in property value. An empty pool will crack and the shell can rise from the ground without the weight of the water to keep it in place. The cost of restoring a pool after it has been empty for a while is significant and a new pool pump is often required too.

“Water scarcity has a devastating effect on the area’s economic and social infrastructure and ultimately affects the whole country. Better water resource management in the domestic environment is needed, and heavy water users such as pool owners have an integral part to play in times of drought. Be responsible, cover up and you can still enjoy your pool all summer without guilt or waste!” concludes Idas.

 

Tips for maintaining pools during a drought

* Close or hibernate your pool with a cover to reduce evaporation by over 98 percent.

* Choose a dark coloured pool cover to reduce algae growth and scale back chemical levels. This will yield water that can be used in the home when you have surpassed your water allowance.

* If you have features such as fountains or jets in your pool, turn them off. Not only do they increase power consumption, the aeration will increase water evaporation.

* If you have an older pool pump, look into the newer more eco-friendly and water-efficient pool pumps now available locally.

* Don’t be tempted to abandon your pool and empty it or let the water lie stagnant. It can become a health risk and also a drowning risk.

 

* Don’t use recycled kitchen or bath water in your pool – the ammonia found in cleaning agents and detergents can wreak havoc on a pool’s pH and quickly weather any PVC covers or accessories. Instead, collect rainwater and use it to top up your pool, if needed.

* Keep the water in the pool! Avoid diving and boisterous swimming to reduce splashing.

* For those who let their dogs swim, this is equivalent to 30 people swimming at once. It requires the filtration system to work even harder to oxidize any pet residue like fur, as well as increasing evaporation and water loss from splashing.

IOL, adapted from a press release.

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