Think Green

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How to lessen a pool's impact on the environment

Few things bring more relief than a swim on a hot day. The cool water of a pool can revive tired muscles and make a sticky body more comfortable. Spending time poolside is one of the more popular warm-weather recreational activities.

To maintain a safe swimming environment, pool water and equipment needs to be sanitary. This necessitates the use of various chemicals to ensure the water is free from bacteria, algae and other contaminants. Pool chemicals and the natural environment are not always a good mix. However, there are ways to reduce the chances a backyard pool will have a significant negative effect on the environment.

Maintain proper upkeep

Chlorine derivatives are the primary sanitizing agent used to keep pool water sparkling clean. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlorine is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the United States. Chlorine is used in cleaning products to kill harmful bacteria as well as in the sanitation for industrial waste and sewage. In high amounts, chlorine can be poisonous. Burning and irritation can occur when the skin is exposed to liquid chlorine. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, chlorine can be very harmful to any living organism in the soil or water that is contaminated by it. Chlorine in the atmosphere can contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer.

The best way to keep chlorine use under control is to carefully stay on top of pool maintenance. Algae blooms or dirty water will require concentrated treatment with chlorine. In contrast, pool water that is maintained will necessitate only marginal levels of chlorine to maintain cleanliness. Routinely test water levels to ensure everything is in order. It can only take a day or two for pool water condition to spiral out of control.

Consider newer alternatives

Ozone and ultraviolet light are two other methods recognized by the EPA for sanitizing water. Homeowners considering the installation of a new pool can look into these alternative filtration systems. Another option is a saltwater filtration system. Salt naturally contains chlorine, and through a chemical process, salt in the filter will convert into chlorine, eliminating the need to handle dangerous chemicals.

Reduce evaporation

Depending on the size of a pool, it will require several thousands of gallons of water to fill. Water is an expensive commodity and not one to be wasted. Yet, leaving a pool exposed to the sun will result in water evaporation. A solar cover or pool blanket can help keep water from evaporating. Some estimates say that covering the pool can reduce evaporation by 90 to 95 percent. Not only will a cover keep water in, but it will also slow down the degradation of chlorine and other chemicals sanitizing the water. Chlorine breaks down more quickly in sunlight.

Minimize energy costs

Running a pool requires increased energy consumption. Filters and cleaning systems can drive up electric bills. Plus, those who heat their pools often find that the venture is quite costly. Energy bills rise dramatically to fuel electrical pool heating systems.

Pool filters should run a certain number of hours each day, usually between 10 and 12 hours. They should not be running constantly unless there is a serious issue that needs cleaning or the system is designed for constant filtration. Energy rates tend to decrease in the evening, so this may be a smarter time to run the filter.

A solar cover does more than just prevent evaporation. It is an inexpensive and environmentally powered method of heating pool water. The cover will intensify the rays of the sun and transfer the added warmth to the water. It will also help lock in the heat and may prevent a certain measure of debris from entering the water, thus cutting down on filtering needs.

Backyard pools are popular and in high demand when temperatures soar. Certain measures can make pool operation safer for swimmers and the environment.