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City lifts pool-filling restrictions

A city-imposed restriction preventing homeowners from filling their pools and ponds was lifted last week by the Claremont City Council.

Council, by a 4-0 vote, approved an ordinance removing the limitation from the city’s municipal code. Opanyi Nasiali abstained after missing the previous council meeting where the item was discussed.

The limitation was part of the Level 2 water supply shortage condition declared by City Manager Tony Ramos pursuant to Claremont’s Municipal Code, a declaration that was confirmed by city council at its regular meeting on April 28.

Shortly thereafter, city staff received comments and letters asking the city to reconsider the restrictions related to the filling of swimming pools and ponds, stating that once filled, swimming pools use significantly less water that turf on a per-square-foot basis.

Given that the state has taken no action to restrict the use of water to fill swimming pools, city staff felt that lifting the local restriction was appropriate and brought the matter to council on May 26. The ordinance was brought to council again on June 9, which then voted to adopt the ordinance.

It was music to the ears of Charles Madanski, who makes his living in the pool industry and spoke in public comment on May 26 to implore the council to rescind the ordinance. Mr. Madanski had replaced his own turf backyard with hardscape in 2009, adding a pool in 2011, and presented evidence to the council members that his water use has actually decreased as a result.

“I’ve pulled my water bills from June through August 2009 and the same time frame in 2014. Within a 62-day period, I was using 95 units of water back in 2009 compared to 77 units in 2014,” he told the council. “That averages out to 18 gallons a day in savings, just by replacing the turf. From April to June 2009 and the same time frame in 2014, I used 131 units of water compared to 118 units, which averages to 14 gallons of water a day. That’s 505 gallons a week I was saving, and that’s without a solar blanket or solar shield or any of the solar additives that you can add to your pool.”

Mr. Madanski added, “I’m not advocating replacing turf with pools, but I think having restrictions on filling pools and draining pools is a little bit out of line.”

Following the closing of public comment, Mayor Corey Calaycay inquired of city staff if residents could empty their pools into the storm drain.

“If you’re under a certain size and as long as you dechlorinate the pool, you actually can release it into the street,” Claremont’s Director of Community Development Brian DeSatnik explained to council. “School pools and commercial pools have other requirements. The Colleges are emptying a pool and they’re using the pit east of Claremont Boulevard. The MS4 issue is where the dechlorination comes in, but they do not restrict small pools from being released into the system.”

In April 2015, Claremont city staff was notified that the pool at El Roble Intermediate School had become inoperable. The pool’s pump had given out and as a result, the city was forced to cease its summer aquatics program for 2015.

In early May, the El Roble pool was drained and 300,000 gallons of water were incorporated into the school’s landscape.

“The pool didn’t have a pump and we couldn’t circulate the water, so it had to be drained,” said Lisa Shoemaker, CUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, when asked what had become of the water. “It was pumped into trucks and broadcast on the lawns. We didn’t have to worry about the chemicals because it had been sitting for so long,” she added. “It was just water at that point.”

 

There are thousands of pools throughout Claremont, with city staff issuing 575 pool permits since 2000 alone. All of those pools lose water naturally due to evaporation. The  rate of evaporation varies depending on the average relative humidity of the local climate, the daily temperature range, wind conditions, the use of a pool heater and even the amount of activity in the pool.

A residential pool without a pool cover can lose about one-quarter of an inch of water level per day or about two inches per week solely due to evaporation. This can amount to between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of water loss per year, depending on the size of the pool and the factors that increase or decrease evaporation. 

Mr. Madanski and Chad Bowser, proprietors of The Foothills Pool & Spa, have nearly 20 years of experience in the pool industry between them and offer some suggestions to owners hoping to reduce the amount of water loss each year.

“Using a cover will reduce water evaporation in your pool by up to 90 percent,” Mr. Bowser explains. “The cover can be cumbersome so for ease of use, you may want to add a reel system to your solar blanket. The reel system allows you to use the cover as it was meant to be used and increase the life of your cover. It’s not for everyone but for seniors or people with back issues, it’s the way to go.”

Solar blankets and reel systems are available in store and can be customized to fit the needs of the homeowner. Prices range from $250 and up.

Also available at the shop is a solar shield additive called SeaKlear that claims to reduce evaporation up to 37 percent in the first week of use. For less than $25, this unique, patented formulation provides evaporation protection by creating an ultra-thin invisible barrier that helps to conserve water and prevent heat loss. The additive can be dosed monthly, or weekly in high evaporation conditions, and is a good alternative for large or irregularly shaped pools.

For former pool owner Larry Schroeder, it’s not just about conserving water. The council member removed his pool last year and opted instead for drought-tolerant landscaping, and couldn’t be happier with the results.

“Pools may not take as much water as landscaping, but they also use a lot of electricity and chemicals to maintain. I caution people to take a more holistic view and consider the alternatives.”

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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