We all know water is a precious commodity in Australia and New Zealand, particularly during periods of prolonged drought. For pool and spa owners concerned about water usage, a few simple design and maintenance changes will help minimise the environmental impact, while maximising all the benefits a backyard pool provides.
As with many issues regarding the protection of the environment, there are many myths and misinformation when it comes to water used for swimming pools and spas.
Some things commonly believed about how to manage pool and spa water is so farfetched, it will benefit every pool and spa owner if we set the record straight.
The SPASA Australia Water - Best Practice Debunking Myths brochure addresses keys areas on how to best protect and manage water in your pool and spa.
One of the most effective ways to limit evaporation and leaf litter is to utilise a pool cover.
Uncovered, the average-sized backyard swimming pool will lose around 7mm of water per day during the summer months. Using a pool cover can reduce evaporation by between 90-95%, saving 3,000 litres per month from evaporation.
Pool covers provide a host of additional benefits;
Your pool will remain cleaner for longer because leaf litter is minimised
You’ll save on chemicals because evaporation has decreased
Pool covers effectively trap in heat, meaning you’ll save energy and reduce your pool heating costs
Utilising a cover extends the swimming season, giving you more time to enjoy your investment.
Be sure to only purchase a pool cover that has met the stringent requirements of SPASA’s Climate Care Certified program.
Making use of available rainwater is one of the simplest ways to reduce your pool’s environmental impact. Investing in an efficient way to maintain water levels in all weather conditions year-round will also quickly pay off.
Options for harvesting rain may include downpipe diverters that deliver rainwater directly from the rooftop to the pool, through to more permanent storage options. A fixed rainwater tank allows you to store top-up water until needed. This rainwater can also be used for the laundry and toilet, increasing household water efficiency and saving money on water bills.
Above-ground rainwater tanks constructed from corrugated, iron, steel or lightweight polyethylene are also available in a range of sizes, colours and shapes, including slimline options for smaller urban spaces.
Backwashing is the process of cleaning the swimming pool filter, but it can use extra water if you aren’t careful. You can reduce the requirement for backwashing by ensuring the pool and filters are clean and should also only backwash until the water in the sight-glass runs clean. Overly frequent backwashing can even reduce the effectiveness of filters.
Filter backwash or de-chlorinated pool wastewater can be collected and reused on lawns and gardens.
Cartridge filters are a popular alternative to traditional filter media alternatives like sand, glass and zeolite. They can screen out more dirt and debris thanks to a larger filtration area. Many also incorporate antimicrobial material to prevent bacterial growth. They simplify maintenance because they reduce or eliminate the need for frequent backwashing.
It is important to clean the filter cartridge element regularly. Additionally, you should soak and degrease the element twice a year to improve longevity and to condition the cartridge. Delays in cleaning will increase the likelihood of the filter becoming clogged, which in turn leaves the pool vulnerable to poor water circulation and filtration issues. Clogged, unchanged filters can also cause other equipment to work harder than necessary, drawing more power than ordinarily required.
Leaks not only waste water, but could undermine the foundations of your pool. If the water level drops abruptly or you have other reasons to suspect a leak, you should act quickly.
Observance is the best way to identify and stop a leak. Turn off the automatic top-up system and use tape or a marker to record the current water line so you can easily see changes. Compare usage volumes on your current water bill with past bills for clearer insights.
There are two types of pool leaks;
Static leaks which lose the same amount of water consistently over a given time period
Pressure leaks which cause water loss only when the filter system is running
Before you call an expert, it’s worthwhile doing a quick DIY check including the following;
Pool wet areas — walk around the pool edge and inspect the area between the pool and the equipment pad. Take note of wet soil and eroded areas.
Plumbing including valves, pipes and joints — visually inspect the plumbing and be on the lookout for water leaks. Even one drop per second equates to 7000 litres per year, so a steady dribble could take you into astronomical numbers very quickly.
Determine what type of leak it is — ascertain if you are dealing with a static or pressure leak, noting if running the filter system has any impact on the water loss.
Check the pool surface — look for cracks in the pool lining or tears in the vinyl pool sheet. Inspect the tile-line and inside the skimmer box. It may still prove to be a plumbing leak, but it’s worthwhile inspecting these elements as well.
Check the lighting — underwater lights can and do leak, especially the conduit that runs from the light niche to the junction box. Filling the opening of the conduit in the back of the light niche with putty, silicone or caulk can often fix the problem.
Decreasing wind speed across the pool surface can dramatically reduce evaporative water loss. Fencing, screening or planting a line of trees are all effective ways to create a windbreak, but you don’t want to shade the pool completely. If using trees or shrubs to create a green barrier, be sure to opt for non-deciduous or evergreen alternatives and keep them neatly trimmed, limiting the likelihood of plant debris ending up in the pool.
When planning your swimming pool installation, think about the location. Water that receives direct sunlight will be warmer to swim in and need less help from a heating system, but you also need to factor in evaporation.
Water loss through evaporation is unavoidable, with temperature (both water and ambient), humidity and wind speed all playing a part. You can lessen the impact through a combination of design, strategic landscaping & planting, and the use of a pool cover.
Inform your Pool and Spa Builder, Pool Shop or Pool and Spa Service technician that you want your new pool, spa or renovation to be Climate Care Certified. This will ensure that the products, system and installation selected by your contractor for you is environmentally sustainable, will make you feel good about your purchase and save you money.
Through the Climate Care Certified program, homeowners are supported and empowered to reduce water and energy consumption by making a positive decision to own an environmentally sustainable swimming pool or spa....whilst saving money at the same time.
Purchase with confidence knowing that you are choosing a certified environmentally sustainable solution
Ability to differentiate between efficient and sustainable pools, spas and equipment
Comfort that pools, spas and associated equipment are responsibly made
Ensures claims being made have been verified by the peak industry body
Recognition of your commitment to owning an environmentally sustainable swimming pool or spa
Reduce your carbon footprint whilst saving money
The Bureau of Meteorology provides access to current water restrictions information for the whole of Australia.
In New Zealand, advice on water restrictions is provided by local councils.