Down the drain: Why aren't cities reusing pool water?

4:59 PM, Aug 24, 2012   |    comments
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By Leisa Zigman

St. Louis (KSDK) - With pools getting ready to close, the I-Team's Leisa Zigman wondered whether all that valuable water needed to go down the drain.

It turns out, one city in our region is leading the way when it comes to reusing this precious resource and if you have a pool you can do it too.

The idea came about during a staff meeting when officials in the City of St. Charles were talking about the end of summer and all the pools closing.

Maralee Britton, the park's director said, "We've been under voluntary water conservation since the end of June. Suddenly, it was like a light bulb that popped up in our minds. Why can't we reuse our pool water?"

It turns out there are nearly 1,000,000 gallons of pool water in the city.

Parks Maintenance Superintendent Nick Donze started researching the use of pool water on plants and shrubs and found that low levels of chlorine isn't harmful. He explained, "To be safe and sure we let the water sit for a few days. The sunshine pulls the chlorine out and dissipates and in a couple of days, it's good to go."

The St. Charles Public Works Department teamed up with Parks and Recreation to recycle water from all the city swimming pools. A test run was completed on August 15 for the purpose of using pool water in street sweepers, sewer vac trucks, and portable water tanks for landscape.

"Currently we have pump and hose connections at the Blanchette pool," said Britton, "and will do the same at McNair. We'll have a similar set up at Wapelhorst when the pool closes on September third, and may also have an opportunity to recycle water for irrigation purposes, as well."

Donze says anyone with a pool could do the same.

"You could pump it out of there and get a nozzle on the end and water your grass, trees, shrubs, lawn, anything you have in your backyard," he said.

Donze points out this will become standard operating procedure in years to come.

"Even if it's not a hot and dry summer we can still re-use this water. It's still a precious resource. Instead of letting it go down the drain, we're putting it to a reuse," he said.

NewsChannel 5 called neighboring cities and a handful responded. St. Louis, Belleville, St. Peters, Arnold, and Town and Country are not recycling pool water.

The parks director with the City of Clayton thought the idea was interesting and is researching it as a possibility.


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