Ottawa – As summer draws to a close, it’s time to prepare your backyard pool for winter. As most pool owners know, there is a right way and a wrong way to proceed. Draining large volumes of chlorinated water is not quite as simple as pulling a plug.
Chlorinated water, as well as salt water, contains chemicals that can be harmful to wildlife in and around Ottawa’s streams, creeks and rivers. When disposing of pool water, it is important to pick a method that reduces the negative impact on the environment and on your neighbours.
The first step for disposing of pool water is to remove the chlorine. Let the water stand for one week without adding chlorine or use a dechlorination additive available at your local pool store.
Next step, select a disposal method:
- Drain dechlorinated water onto your lawn, as long as it does not run onto a neighbouring property, over a valley or into a ravine, or
- Drain dechlorinated water into a storm drain on a dry day (to prevent overloading of storm sewers). Before doing so, it is essential that pool water is free of chlorine, algaecides, fungicides, debris and algae, as once the pool water enters a storm sewer it is directed without treatment to the nearest creek, stream or river. Care must also be taken to ensure that the road and surrounding properties are not impacted.
If you cannot dechlorinate the pool water, the only available option is to drain chlorinated water into the sanitary sewer by running a hose to an indoor drain such as a utility tub. This will ensure that the water is treated at the City’s wastewater treatment facility. Some in-ground pools have a drain line connected to the sanitary sewer; contact a plumber for more information.
Salt water should never be discharged to a storm sewer. It can be drained to the sanitary sewer, removed by a licensed wastewater hauler or discharged onto the owner’s property provided there is no impact on surrounding properties.
The City of Ottawa’s Sewer Use By-law (2003-514) regulates the disposal of pool water. Contravention of the by-law may result in a fine.
By following these simple steps you are practicing responsible pool care and making your own important contribution to protecting Ottawa’s environment.
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