Swimming Pools, Water Usage, and Oklahoma Droughts– Oh my!
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than half of the municipalities in the state of Oklahoma are currently experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions. And while this number is down to 53 percent from 63 percent earlier this summer, a recent rash of harsh, hot summers and limited rainfall are continuing to take its toll on Oklahoma – most notably the northern, central and western parts of the state.
In fact, according to a report from the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, north-central Oklahoma is averaging less than 6 inches below normal rainfall levels, making this among the driest years this century.
With all of this in mind, it should surprise nobody that Oklahoma municipalities are taking measures to conserve water. For instance, in 2013, the Oklahoma City Council approved new water conservation regulations, which vary between Stage 1 and Stage 5 based on the levels in the city’s reservoirs. Stage 1, for example, mandates that homeowners only water their lawns every other day as it pertains to their odd or even-numbered address. Conversely, Stage 5 conditions ban all outdoor watering and car washing activity.
With all of that being said, what can you do to conserve water and enjoy that summertime amenity you’ve come to taken for granted during the season’s dog days? Yes, we’re talking about your swimming pool. Keep in mind that Oklahoma City is very strict about enforcing its water conservation regulations – fines start at $119 for first-time offenders and can be as much as $519. So how can you enjoy your pool with the environment and water conservation in mind?
Water Conservation Tips for Swimming Pools
- Pool covers: Pool covers are an ideal way to conserve both energy and water. In fact, pool covers are so efficient that it’s estimated that they can save up to 7,000 gallons of water each summer in reduced evaporation. But not only do they reduce water evaporation by up to 95 percent, they’re also easy on utilities costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, pool owners can save up to 70 percent in heating costs by using a cover. What’s more, pool covers are relatively inexpensive, making them an even more important aspect of your water conservation efforts.
- Variable speed drive pumps: If you have an in-ground swimming pool, you have a pump. Essentially, pumps recirculate the pool water. However, when you’re not using the pool (i.e., at night), there’s no need for a pump to run as powerfully. That’s where a more advanced variable speed drive pump comes in handy – they slow the velocity of water during non-busy pool usage times and this reduces evaporation. These types of pumps can also save up to 80 percent in energy costs.
- Lower water levels: If you’re losing a lot of pool water due to all the splashing and playing that goes on inside, here’s an idea – lower your water levels. Simply reducing the water levels by a few inches is enough to retain water that might be lost from such behavior, not to mention conserve water as you’re not regularly filling your pool to the brim. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye that your water level does not go below the skimmer line.
- Strategic landscaping: The wind can do a real number on your pool water as far as evaporation is concerned. So if you’re able, consider planting shrubs or trees around your pool. Not only will this give you additional privacy while you’re swimming, but it will cut down on the wind zapping water from your pool.
- Chemicals: There are a few handy liquid chemicals on the market that will also help keep your pool water in place. For example, Cover Free by Natural Chemistry reduces evaporation by up to 85% and prevents heat loss by up to 70%. This can help with your water bill during the hot months and extend your swimming season further into the fall.
Much of the country – not to mention Oklahoma – is currently experiencing drought-like conditions. And they’re not likely to change over night. So be sure that, as a pool owner, you are doing what you can to conserve water and while abiding by your local city and state laws.