It’s very important that people today are aware of their water usage and finding ways to reduce it. Past generations have taken water for granted, and their lack of prevention has resulted in contamination, pollution, and widespread threats to the availability of clean water for everyone.
The stakes are high.
This year’s drought in California makes it easy to see just how important water conservation can be. Given their very real threats to human life and wellbeing, water shortages are extremely dangerous. But while everyone must do his or her part to conserve, preserve, and protect America’s water systems, not every effort has the same impact. It’s easy to get carried away and go to extremes, and that can do more harm than good.
Pools provide an easy target.
Private citizens who own backyard pools have been criticized, looked down upon, and even harassed for using water in their pools. That makes sense, especially in a drought, because swimming pools use a lot of water. It’s easy to imagine the total amount of water that could be used for other purposes if every household gave up their pool for a summer. It’s not that simple, though.
Let’s choose the right battles.
There’s a reason why we haven’t banned swimming pools to conserve the water, and it’s not just that the rich and powerful don’t want to give up their hot tubs. It’s about impact and sustainability. It’s a worthy effort, but it’s not a real solution. All the swimming pool water in the world won’t solve the problems of even one area struggling with drought, let alone all of them.
More importantly, large amounts of clean, potable water are hard to move over long distances. Natural waterways provide the most efficient water delivery systems, and when those break down, humans, animals, and industries face big problems. Foregoing swimming in Arizona is unlikely to have any effect on the water shortage in California. In extreme cases, it can be more practical to move the people and industries to unaffected areas than it is to truck in the water it would take to sustain them.
People who live in glass houses need water too.
It’s easy for non-pool-owners to point fingers at those of us who do fill our pools each summer. That’s because it’s easy to see the water being used for a pool, and it’s easy to imagine going without. But think about the homes in your neighborhood that don’t have pools. What do they have in common? Lawns. It’s a quiet message without a lot of advocates because lawns are an accepted part of American home ownership and culture. But a yard full of grass actually wastes more water than a well-maintained and covered pool of the same size. When you consider how many of your neighbors maintain lawns that are bigger than your pool, the argument against your pool becomes hard to swallow.
Be a good pool person.
The key to saving water -- even while enjoying your pool -- is to minimize the amount you waste. Just by covering it when it's not in use, you can cut in half the amount of water your pool loses to evaporation. Keeping the temperature as low as possible, especially when no one is swimming, will save even more. When it comes to getting low, it’s also a good idea to keep your water level a little lower than maximum capacity. A high water level causes your pool to lose more water to splash-out. Check your pool regularly for leaks, which can cause problems far more extensive than a little less depth to swim in. To be a good pool owner and conserve as much water as possible, you’ll need to keep your pool properly filtered, treated, and balanced. If you want to reduce your water usage really significantly, you can explore the possibility of winterizing your pool with special treatments instead of emptying it in the off-season.
Commit to water conservation.
A water-friendly pool isn’t impossible, but it’s definitely a commitment. If you catch criticism for your at-home-swimming choices, make sure you have a leg to stand on. Just learning about each of these ways of conserving water will help you be a more water-conscious pool owner. Then you can genuinely start feeling better about your backyard, regardless of whether it’s full of water or grass.