Swimming Pools - Are They Worth The Water?

Two thirds of the world is made up of water, mirroring the content of the human body. With the advent of the 21st century, it has become increasingly obvious that the public desires more education about water usage. The National Spa and Pool Institute, a non profit organization, has provided the following piece which provide an interesting counterbalance to the prevailing view of swimming pools in an era of water conservation.

So, it's summer and the family has decided to enjoy themselves with an outdoor Barbecue. Just Mom, Dad and their two children. A recent article in the SACRAMENTO BEE noted that it takes more than 10,000 gallons of water to grow and process the food for a simple backyard Barbecue involving four people. Until very recently, California was a state where drought has been encountered on a massive scale. What California found out, was that they did not need more dams or reservoirs. Neither did they need to eliminate backyard barbecues, or pools, or spas. What they needed was a realistic look at an important feature - quality of life. And to combine this quality of life with some prudent conservation measures in using water and water related products.

As water industry advocates, the National Spa and Pool institute recognizes that the N.S.P.I will be viewed as a group of people "defending their pocketbooks." N.S.P.I. hopes, however, that the real costs to public well being would be accurately viewed. An analysis of of water use in swimming pools conducted as long ago as 1977, indicated where misconceptions arise.

Initially, the study was based on the following assumptions.
That adequate lawn irrigation involves 1.6" per week. (Albuquerque lawn irrigation actually takes about 3" per week).
The pool size is 15' x 30'.
There is a concrete apron around the pool.
The monthly evaporation rate of the pool is 11.27".
There is 5 months of pool use on the average.
The splash factor is 25% of evaporation.
Evaporation by wet walks, decks, equipment. Total monthly use = 7,110 gals. for pools. Total irrigation eliminated by replacing the area with a pool = 4,270 gal. for lawns.
Now modify the pool with a cover and eliminate at least 80% of the evaporation (not considered in the California study); eliminate the extra burden of lawn maintenance and use by lawns for irrigation throughout the year and you can subtract another 1,770 gal. from total use difference. So, 7,710 gal. = pool use. 6,670 gal.=sprinkler use. 1040 = total difference in gal.

Now consider abuse factors, as they did in this study. For pools, they considered unrepaired leaks, improper care leading to excessive draining and cleaning; excessive backwashing; most of these were minor exposures where water fees were based on use. On the contrary, yard sprinkler and water sprinkler abuse was high and widespread. This sprinkler abuse involved: leaving sprinklers on all night;leaky facilities; open hoses and other outlets.

The final analysis by the city of Sacramento? "Lawn irrigation use equals 49 inches a year. Pool use is 20 inches a year...so that a swimming pool uses substantially less than the same area developed in lawn and/or landscape."

Although N.S.P.I. recognizes that landscaping conservation - xeriscaping, etc. affords less water use, the public is still left with those quality of life issues - does the public forego the exercise benefits that pools so readily afford users? Swimming is one exercise that can both be aerobic and fat reducing without the harms to the body associated with other physical activities. Do we give up spas, barbecues, sunrooms, saunas and a host of other products? Do we sacrifice the home resort and pollute the air in our efforts to avoid water use by driving to other forms of entertainment / exercise? Consequently, we drive in traffic jams to public facilities. Moreover, technology in the water industry now affords a wide variety of water saving devices from solar heating; automatic solar covers; to recirculation and retrievable water systems.

Our industry is committed to prudent use of facilities which emphasize conservation, as well as health and safety. One area N.S.P.I. would like to see involves changes in building codes to permit water to be recycled with differing filtration and recirculation systems So, N.S.P.I hopes that we can deal with fact, not myths with regard to water policies of the future.

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