What are the things that I can do to maintain an “Eco Friendly” Swimming Pool?

“Going Green” is quite popular. “Green swimming pool water…not so much. “Eco Friendly” is a more positive term for swimming pools and there are products and procedures to help you get there.

Having a swimming pool in your backyard is already “Eco friendly”. You have created an environmental oasis and vacationing at home keeps your vehicle off of already busy roads and highways.

In this article we will examine how you can enhance your “Eco Friendly" swimming pool and backyard.

Some of the basic steps you can take to maintain your eco friendly space are;

  1. Always keep your swimming pool water properly filtered and sanitized.
  2. Keep the swimming pool and surrounding area clean and debris free.
  3. Do not allow water to remain stagnant on top of your winter cover or in the swimming pool.
  4. Open your pool early in the spring and close it late in the fall.

More specific steps you can take to maintain and enhance your eco friendly space are;

  • A) Chemical consumption and conservation
  • B) Energy conservation
  • C) Water conservation
  • D) Noise pollution 
  • E) Light pollution

A) Chemical Consumption and Conservation
There are two aspects to chemically maintaining swimming pool water.

1. Protection of the swimming pool surfaces and equipment

We protect the pool by balancing the water so it is not corrosive or scaling. This is done by testing for and adjusting these factors: pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Temperature and Total Dissolved Solids. It is important that these factors be tested professionally and accurately so the proper amounts can be added. By following directions you can avoid using more chemical then is required. Some “Eco Friendly” products are available to balance your swimming pool water. Ask you pool professional for products that may work for you.

2. Protection of the Bather

Sanitation and Oxidation - Sanitizing and oxidizing swimming pool water is what we do to make the swimming pool water safe for bathers, safe from harmful bacteria and virus’s. There are only two chemical products approved by Health Canada for this purpose. These products are Chlorine and Bromine. For discussion purposes I will refer to chlorine but they are both in the same chemical family and can both be used.

To properly protect yourself, your family and your friends you must maintain a Chlorine residual in your swimming pool water at all times. There are no alternatives. There are however different things you can do and products you can use to reduce the amount of Chlorine or Bromine your swimming pool requires.

Chemical Conservation - Every swimming pool has a chlorine demand. This is the amount of chlorine you need to get rid of all the wastes in your pool water and then have a chlorine residual left behind. If you have had difficulty maintaining a chlorine residual  then you have not met or exceeded this chlorine demand. Therefore the key to chemical conservation is to reduce the chlorine demand in your swimming pool water.

Here are some maintenance tips to your chlorine demand.

  1. Run circulation equipment as per your pools needs.
  2. Keep area around your swimming pool leaf and debris free.
  3. Skim leaves and debris from pool surface on a regular basis.
  4. Use an automatic pool cleaner to maintain a clean pool.
  5. Clean out skimmer basket and pump strainer basket on a regular basis.

There are systems and products available to help you lower the chlorine demand.

UV Sanitizers. They work well in sanitizing the water that passes the Ultra Violet light at a wave length of 254nm. Therefore they reduce chlorine demand but you still require a chlorine residual in the pool water to protect bathers.

Ozonators. Ozone is very strong oxidizer and kills everything it comes in contact with. Ozone dissipates quickly and will not protect bathers in the pool so you will reduce chlorine demand but you will still require a chlorine residual in the pool water.

Chlorine Generators. (Saltwater pools) Lets’ immediately dispel the belief that a saltwater pool is a chemical (chlorine) free pool. Salt is added to the water so that chlorine can be created at the generator cell. These systems can satisfy most of the chlorine demand for your swimming pool water without having to add more chemicals but there are other considerations. Be sure that your swimming pool environment has compatible materials for the increase in the salt added to the water and make sure you can discharge the pool water in accordance with local by-laws.

Enzymes. Natural enzymes are an excellent method to attack the organic build-up in your pool. They will reduce the chlorine demand and can enhance water quality.

Heavy Metals. There are numerous devices in the market that use heavy metals to reduce chlorine demand. The most popular of these would be copper, zinc and silver. Depending on their application these may reduce chlorine demand. These systems are not sufficient on their own and you must maintain a chlorine residual in these pools as per Health Canada regulations. It is important to know that heavy metals cannot be discharged to some municipal storm sewers.

B) Energy Conservation
There are steps you can take to reduce the energy consumption of your swimming pool.

  1. Low voltage lighting in and around swimming pool environment.
  2. Energy efficient pumps with variable speeds and timers.
  3. Superior filtrations systems that require less time to filter more debris.
  4. Augment or replace heating systems with energy efficient heat pumps or solar heating.
  5. Use thermal covers (solar blankets) to retain heat.
  6. Reduce evaporation (heat loss) of water as much as possible. Do not run water feature twenty four hours a day.

C) Water Conservation
Take these steps to reduce the amount of water your swimming pool uses.

  1. Automatic water levelers to avoid over filling of pools.
  2. Filtration systems (cartridge, Diatomaceous earth) that do not require backwashing (dumping water).
  3. Reduce evaporation using thermal blankets and not running water features twenty four hours.
  4. Careful chemical maintenance systems to ensure no overdosing and need for water discharge.
  5. Winterizing products and techniques that do not require the removal of as much water.

D) Noise Pollution
Be considerate of your neighbours. If your pump, heater or any other equipment is making noise then it should be replaced. New products are energy efficient and quieter.

E) Light Pollution
Bright lights in your backyard can disturb the entire neighborhood. Be considerate when you illuminate your swimming pool and surrounding area.
If you follow some of the tips and use some of the products mentioned in this article you will make your backyard swimming pool more “Eco Friendly”. You will enjoy it more and that is what swimming pools are all about….fun!