School has begun for another year. Days are getting shorter and cooler. The first day of fall is a week away. Now is the time to start thinking about closing the family pool for another season.
Did you know that there are laws in London, Ontario on exactly how to go about draining your pool? When you remove water from your pool, the water has to go somewhere and draining it straight into the sewer is not the way—especially if your spa or pool is saltwater.
While you can drain a chlorinated pool into the grass once it has been dechlorinated for at least a week, the same cannot be said of saltwater pools. Any time water enters the city’s storm sewers, it needs to be free of chemicals, including salt. Water from storm sewers runs into our creeks, rivers and lakes untreated, which if contaminated with swimming pool water can harm the environment. And is illegal, with fines up to $10,000 for a first offense.
The problem with saltwater pools is that you cannot drain them into storm sewers or your yard; the reason—most garden plants cannot tolerate salt either. Many a saltwater pool owner (or their neighbours) can attest to that, as concentration levels of salt in the soil can stress grass, plants and any trees which are in the path of saltwater. Cedar trees are especially intolerant of salt and will succumb to high sodium concentrates. Salt can remain in your soil for years, preventing your plants from thriving, or worse, causing their demise. Gypsum treatments can help separate sodium from soil, but it may require many applications before you can get levels back to normal levels. And for those with clay—like many homeowners in London—that process takes even longer, as salt takes longer to wash out of clay.
So what should saltwater pool owners do when it comes time to backwash or drain their pools or spas? If you can, drain the water into your household sanitary sewer connection (ie. washer, sink, bathtub). If that is not an option, you must contact a licensed water hauler to truck the contaminated water away. That is a part of the cost of maintenance of your pool and the price you pay for summer play.