How to spare swimming-pool water amidst a drought

Private Property South Africa
Anne Schauffer

With SA experiencing its worst drought in years, being careful about you deal with your swimming pool water is extremely important.

For KwaZulu-Natal, the implications of the worst drought since 1992 are extensive. With many dams at very low levels, KZN is under stringent water restrictions. And although how you deal with your swimming pool may not alter the state of the nation, don’t be fooled – every drop counts. Pools and gardens can account for around 60% of a home’s water usage, and recycling water (quantity and quality) for a pool is rarely feasible.

There are several ways to practise water conservation with your pool without risking the pool’s structure or water-purity content. Better still, with summer knocking on the door, manage the situation so you’re still able to use the pool.

Install a JoJo tank to collect rainwater run-off from gutters, install a pool cover, and backwash less – bi-weekly, not weekly, and for a shorter time

suggests Peter Shedlock of Swimming Pool Services in Umhlanga. Keeping the pool and filters clean will reduce the need to backwash.

A swimming pool loses water naturally through evaporation – more than half the water can potentially evaporate in a year – so curbing that loss is a priority. The goal is to avoid topping up the water, or certainly not frequently. A pool cover can reduce evaporation by 90–95%. It also reduces the need to use more chemicals, restricts algal growth, and conserves heat. Apart from being a drowning precaution for children, there are other benefits, such as reduced power consumption through less filtration. Shedlock says, “If the drought bites further, and you’re forced into decommissioning the pool, a cover is also less unsightly.”

Yes, there are ways other than a cover, but take care. Shedlock warns, “Don’t let your water level drop below the weir.” A pool pump requires a certain water level in order to run – equally, if the pump is left idle for some time, components will degrade. Stagnant, unfiltered water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so – aside from the unappealing look and smell – it’s unhealthy.

Think hard before emptying your pool – most pools are designed to have the weight of water to hold them in place; others will crack. Refurbishment is expensive. In addition, take care of the obvious dangers of a large, empty, hard cavity when there are small children around (particularly if water collects in it).

There are a number of little adjustments you can make. Make sure your pump is working optimally – try running it for less than the recommended eight hours – ensure there are no pool leaks, and even lower the pool water level slightly so water doesn’t splash out with boisterous swimmers.

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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