Greening your swimming pool

By green, I don’t mean color of the water in your swimming pool :). I’m referring to lessening the environmental impact.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of swimming pools. They seem like a lot of work, are expensive to install and maintain, take up a lot of space and the amount of water and chemicals needed to keep them topped up and clean is mind boggling.

But when I was in the outback a few weeks ago in 100 degree heat, accompanied by dust and flies you wouldn’t believe and staring at a farm dam that had been dry for two years; a pool did somehow seem like a more palatable idea. In fact, a small muddy puddle I came across from a leaking pipe at that time was pretty inviting too :).

If you’re a pool owner, here’s some issues to take into consideration and ideas to help lessen the impact your pool has on the environment – and the one major green step you can take is to use a pool cover.


It’s not just the amount of water that initially is put in a pool that’s a problem, an uncovered pool with dimensions of 18 feet x 36 feet can lose around 7,000 gallons of water a year just through evaporation depending on where you live. To put that into perspective, that’s enough drinking water to sustain a human for 29 years.

A pool cover/blanket can reduce evaporation by a massive 90 – 95% and they are quite inexpensive to buy. While most pool blankets are made from plastics; it’s a case of the lesser of the two evils.


I’ve read that up to 1 in 5 inground swimming pools leak. A small leak in a pool cause the loss of 700 gallons of water per day. If your pool is losing over a quarter inch of water every 24 hours (or half an inch in particularly hot, dry regions), it’s a good indication you may have a leak.

By addressing leaks and evaporation, you’ll not only save precious potable water, you’ll likely save a ton of cash as well.


Chlorine can be nasty stuff and a recent study drew a possible link between chlorinated pools and asthma in children. Draining pools and discharging backwash can cause problems to waterways if it isn’t done correctly. If you do need to use chlorine in your pool and find the occasion to drain it; avoid adding chlorine for a full week before emptying the pool.
Again, a pool cover/blanket can reduce chemical use by up to 50%. Evaporative pool chemicals contribute to the production of greenhouse gases; so you’ll be doing good there as well in chemical reduction.

Some alternatives to chlorine include copper ionization and oxygen systems, ultraviolet (UV) sanitization systems or possibly salt, although I believe with the latter, other chemicals also need to be added.


If you heat your pool you’re in for a nasty shock when it comes time to pay your utility bill; not to mention the impact the energy consumption has on the environment if your electricity comes from a coal-fired power station. Building on the pool blanket idea, you can buy bubble covers that are basically a solar energy collector, inncreasing your pool temperature substantially and helping to lock the heat in. Apparently clear blankets are the best option.

Not being a pool owner, that’s about all I can come up with at this point. If you have green tips for more environmentally friendly pools, I’d welcome your additions – please add your comments below!