Getting Ready for Swimming Season? Here's How to Drain Your Pool Properly

Getting Ready for Swimming Season? Here’s How to Drain Your Pool Properly

Now that it’s officially June, some Kane County residents might be getting their swimming pools ready for the upcoming months of summer fun.

If your pool was left partially filled over the winter or it has been collecting rain water (and probably some debris) this spring and will need a good cleaning out, please remember that there are some general guidelines that should be followed when draining a pool — and the guidelines apply to above-ground or in-ground swimming pools, as well as hot tubs.

Storm drain stencilThe Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources certainly receives a phone call or two each year from residents with drainage concerns, sometimes from the next-door neighbors of pool owners. Most often the concerns are about potential flooding on adjacent properties, or questions about the impacts to our waterways and aquatic life from chlorinated water.

When pool water is discharged directly to surface waters — including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and wetlands — it can be detrimental to the ecosystem, and is also considered an “illicit discharge” that may result in a fine in many communities.

Discharging swimming pool water into storm drains or drainage ditches can be equally harmful since these storm drains and ditches connect directly to our surface waters (although the impacts of chlorine are more of a concern with pool draining during the fall season when chemicals have more recently been added to the water, rather than with pool water that has been sitting out all winter or spring).

There are also issues with draining pool water into the sanitary sewer or a septic system. If you drain pool water into a sanitary sewer, the chlorine can adversely affect the beneficial microorganisms at the wastewater treatment plant that biodegrade the wastewater.

Julie Wiegel, assistant director for Environmental Health for the Kane County Health Department, advises that the water from a pool should NOT be discharged to a septic system.

“Large volumes of water can overload your septic system and chlorine can destroy important bacteria in your septic tank and field,” she said.

The potential negative impacts from draining swimming pools can be avoided if owners are responsible.

Steps for Draining Your Pool

De-chlorinate the pool water prior to draining it. Chemicals that will quickly remove chlorine are available through pool and spa care vendors. Carefully follow the directions on the product label.

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  • Drain the pool over a period of several days ACROSS your lawn following these rules:
    • Allow the water to sit for at least 2 days in the sunlight, and without further addition of chlorine or bromine.
    • It is highly recommended that you test the chlorine level to ensure that a safe level of below 0.1 mg/L is reached before draining the water.
  • Direct the drainage across your lawn, and NOT down your driveway, into a storm drain, or directly to wetlands or other water bodies.
  • Do NOT drain your water onto public property or another person’s property.
  • Do NOT drain your water directly into a private septic system.

Also, remember that your pool filters have chemical residue on them. Wash them out in a utility sink or bath tub so that the water is discharged to the sanitary sewer system. These traces of pool chemicals are not harmful to the sanitary sewer’s microorganisms. Lastly, always be sure to follow the operation and maintenance instructions for your particular swimming pool.

Enjoy splashing around in your pool this summer–just don’t forget to review these pool draining tips for fall when the summer fun comes to an end in a few short months.

About the Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources

Clean Water for Kane logo_reducedThe Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources develops, evaluates, and implements programs to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and the environment. These programs include the countywide Stormwater Management program, the Kane County Recycles recycling and waste recovery programs, the electric aggregation program, the Sustain Kane program, and other resource conservation and environmental projects.