Leaking swimming pools drawing attention during drought

Virtually every aspect of our daily water use is coming under scrutiny because of the drought.
January 28, 2014 5:26:37 PM PST
Virtually every aspect of our daily water use is coming under scrutiny because of the drought. However, swimming pool leaks are now starting to draw attention, and for good reason.

It's estimated there are just over 225,000 swimming pools in the Bay Area. But there is one fewer pool this week. And the drought was a major consideration.

"It was leaking constantly. And, we were constantly having to add water to it. And, in these drought days, we felt very strongly we ought to, we ought to think, seriously, about getting rid of this pool," said homeowner Walter Cannon, M.D.

Walter and Irene Cannon are not alone. Pool contractors and water agencies estimate about a third of all pools have leaks. That means constantly adding water. Dig & Demo specializes in pool demolition.

"A lot of people attribute it towards evaporation, but really evaporation can only take maybe a quarter to a half inch a day," said Dig & Demo owner Ryan Crownholm.

The leaks can be in the concrete or in the water lines to the pumps and heater. Leaks can waste 10,000 gallons, or more, during the course of a year depending on the pool size.

"The average swimming pool is about 25,000 gallons, so you figure about half of your pool per-year could be leaking away through some pipes," said Crownholm.

With voluntary water conservation on the horizon, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is starting to analyze water waste from pools.

"We did get a request from somebody from the public last week, and so we're, my staff, right now, is working on putting together a fact sheet on pool use. And removal and leaks and pool covers. You know, everything related to pools. So, we hope to have that available in the next week or two," said Jerry De La Piedra from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

While leaks can be repaired, the pool can be removed and replaced by drought-resistant landscaping.

"I really want to convince my husband to make a drought-resistant back yard, but he wants a lawn. He has this vision of mowing lawns. That's his love is mowing lawns," said Irene Cannon, M.D.

The pool removal will be done in a week, and the dream of a lawn may be fading.

"I'm obviously bending a lot because the drought is pushing us to be much more thoughtful about, about the drought," said Walter Cannon.

Removing a pool can cost between $8,000 - $15,000.


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