Photo: Chuan Ding

Photo: Chuan Ding

It’s been over a year since our Governor officially declared a California state of emergency due to the state drought. However, it’s important to note average temperatures have been rising for over the past 15 years, meaning if the trend continues we are likely to face more extremely hot dry summers for years to come. Heat waves have already swept through Asia and Europe in the last couple weeks, during which time thousands of Europeans went out to seek relief out in the water. Swimming pools, public water fountains, mist fountains, and any body of water were popular destinations for families – and even pets – seeking relief during the heatwave and it’s no different here in Los Angeles when temperatures rise into the triple digits. With summer in full swing here in Los Angeles, the question arises, “How can we enjoy water in a time of drought?” in a city which has long relied upon swimming pools for summer relief?

Creative Commons Photo by Matt Deavenport

Creative Commons Photo by Matt Deavenport

But before we talk about any tips and recommendations, here are some facts about swimming pools every Angeleno should know:

  • There are 43,123 swimming pools in the Los Angeles basin, with an average depth of 5.5 feet and a surface area of 430 sq. ft. The average total volume is about 18,000 gallons per pool. This means that 760 million gallons, or 2,300 acre-feet of water, is stored in Los Angeles swimming pools at any given time. People in Southern California consume about 130 gallons of water per day, which means the amount of water in those 43,123 pools could provide water for all of our city’s residents for about 1.5 years.
  • Water evaporation from pools without covers accounts for around 2,000 acre-feet of water per year.
  • Families with swimming pools use an average of 22% – 25% more water than households without one, a figure cited from a 1999 study done by the California Urban Water Conservation Council surveying 194 homes with swimming pools.
Wikimedia Commons Photo by Jeff Sandquist

Wikimedia Commons Photo by Jeff Sandquist

So knowing all these facts, what are those 43,123 households with swimming pools to do outside of draining and filling in their pools? What strategies can pool owners take to efficiently enjoy their pool while wasting less of the precious resource of water?

Infographic via LA Times Twitter.

Infographic via LA Times Twitter.

1. Get a pool cover. Swimming pool covers can stop 90% of the evaporation rate, and in turn save 30%-50% total water loss. You might be surprised to discover a pool with a cover uses less water over three years than a turf lawn of the same size, and even a drought tolerant landscaped garden.

2. Keep the pool’s water level lower. Keeping the pool levels below the edge to reduce water loss caused by overflow and splashing.

3. Reuse the drainage water and spa backwash to water your backyard plants. Swimming pools seldom need to be drained, but when the need arises consider reusing the water. Just remember to neutralize the acids and do not use chemicals for 72 hours prior to draining. Pool water and spa backwash water (approximately 75 gallons per rinse), can both be used to irrigate a variety of salt-tolerant plants like oleander, rosemary, olive, aloe, deer grass and others once properly treated. More about reusing pool and spa water for gardens here.

4. Use a public pool: I’ve fond memories of learning how to swim as a child, and also spending hot summer afternoons with friends in Las Vegas, both done at public pools. Public pools are a more efficient use of water since the resource is shared amongst more people at once. Here’s more information about the best Los Angeles public swimming pools and water features.


One Comment

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  1. July 13, 2015

    Reblogged this on Typefiend™ and commented:
    A surprising statistic: “A pool with a cover uses less water over 3 years than a turf lawn of the same size or even a drought tolerant garden.”


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