Ben Franklin, or some other smart person with a wig, once said that a penny saved was a penny earned. For the cost-conscious pool owner, the same can be said for every drop of water. Maintaining water levels in a pool of several thousand gallons can easily have an adverse effect on the water bill, so it’s important to take a few simple, conscientious steps to avoid wasting the precious fluid.
How is water wasted in the average pool? In several ways, the first being water evaporation. This one might seem unpreventable, but it isn’t. The second is simple leaks, which can occur in any pool, even those with conscientious caretakers, and can be so small and insidious as to escape notice while costing you gallons of money. The third, and most fun, is splash-out, the natural consequence of people having a good time. Finally, there is back-washing from the filter, which is occasionally necessary but water-depleting nonetheless.
To put these losses in perspective, behold the numbers. An uncovered 18x36 pool can be reasonably expected to lose about an inch from the water level each week. That may not sound like much, but when extrapolated over the course of a year that’s about 7,000 gallons of water. This may be more or less depending on conditions and the length of the season, but in any case it’s too much to ignore. In hot, dry climates like Arizona (where pools are most prevalent), it’s estimated that a typical pool can lose up to 25,000 gallons annually – nothing to sneeze at.
As for leaks, it’s estimated that 30 percent of pools have one, whether their owners know it or not. Depending on size, the effects can be as bad as those of evaporation. Add back-washing, which for a standard sand filter wastes about 200 gallons of water every two minutes, and one begins to understand why the hose spends so many hours in peoples' pools, pumping homeowners' money away.
With that knowledge, take action.
There are several things one can do to conserve pool water. The first and foremost is to use a cover to limit evaporation. Secondly, have your pool tested by professionals for leaks, and fix them no matter how small they are. If possible, limit splashing by confining splash-heavy activities to the middle of the pool, from which water is less likely to reach the edge.
The pool’s overall setup is also crucial to water conservation. Landscaping with large plants or other objects can actually cut down the rate of evaporation by blocking wind. Any running fountains or waterfalls should be kept on timers, and never run when no one is around to enjoy them. The water level itself should be relatively low, as an overfilled pool will inevitably be splashed into a more reasonable level anyway.
Lastly, pool maintenance can be optimized to preserve water levels. Make sure that you apply chemicals at night, and do so judiciously, never using more than is needed. Proper chemicalization and sanitization, along with keeping the entire pool and filters clean, will reduce the need to back-wash too often. When back-washing, only do so until the water in the sight glass runs clean.
By following these simple water saving tips, the savings in water will be reflected in your budget, allowing you and your family to enjoy all the joys of pooldom worry-free.