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Thread: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

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    Ocean Railroader's Avatar
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    Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    I was reading several stories how a lot of cities in California are banning the use of filling swimming pools with city water. But I was thinking could people consider filling up their swimming pools with saltwater from the Pacific Ocean itself and get around this swimming pool filling ban?

    I have seen several ocean water pools before in Virginia Beach. There was a hotel in Virginia Beach before the hotel was torn down and replaced with 20 story tall building. The old Seahawk Hotel in Virginia Beach used to have a saltwater pool. The pool looked like a normal swimming pool but it had a saltwater ocean taste to it along with a chlorine smell.


    There was a idea I was thinking about that maybe some coastal cities in California should consider building a separate system of PVC pipes and water mains that could be set up to pump in cleaned up seawater for toilet flushing and swimming pools along with for firefighting. The idea might also need sewer systems built for saltwater toilet flushing. The idea would be based off of Hong Kong's saltwater flushing toilets and water mains.

    The idea is that if say San Fransisco or Long Beach replaced 300,000 freshwater toilets with saltwater. Along with that if they converted 400,000 of California's 1.1 million swimming pools to saltwater pumped in from the sea it might be enough to kill off of the California drought by providing a never ending source of water. The idea would be that if some of these major cities could reduce their needs for Colorado River Water they might be able to get rid of California's thrust for draining the dying Colorado River.

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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Seawater is extremely corrosive.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    The seawater would still have to be treated to remove all of the other minerals and biologicals that exist in it. That would require LOTS of power and is one reason why desalination of sea water is not a viable option for creating drinking water. I'm guessing that will happen when California decides to start investing in nuclear power again....so never really.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    I have seen fiberglass lined fish tanks with plywood hold saltwater fish tanks together quite fine.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The saltwater swimming pool I had seen was at least 30 years old and built in the 1970's but it was torn down not due to it decaying. But due to the hotel it was in being sold and torn down and replaced with a 20 story building with a infinity pool on the roof it over looking the Atlantic Ocean.

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    Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Here's a general composition of seawater -



    You'd definitely want to get rid of the Mg and Sulfur compounds. The Br would cause some problems too as then you'd be operating a mixed bromine/chlorine swimming pool.

    However, the TDS of seawater is so high that most residential pool construction could not handle it. Perhaps if you designed a pool upfront for ocean water usage, it might be possible.

    Also, for home use, you'd run into the same kinds of issues - modern plumbing is not designed to use seawater. Therefore, retro-fit costs would be high.

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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Some news stories about some of the bans are California pool, hot tub filling bans have industries steaming and Drought puts screws on California's swimming pools.

    The cities are overreacting because there is a lot more water to be saved by cutting back watering landscaping than there is on not filling new pools with water. The average California single-family home (according to this study) uses 360 gallons per day of water. More than half of this average, 190 gallons per day, is used for landscaping (again, averaged over many people who don't have landscaping). However, 18% of water used indoors is wasted by leaks inside homes (running toilets, leaking faucets, broken pipes, etc.), so an average of 31 gallons per day.

    So to fill a 10,000 gallon pool would be equivalent to 52 days of landscaping, so there is no question that this is a lot of water. However, the number of new pools and this incremental water is tiny compared to total water usage. In other words, cutting back landscaping overall by a small amount more than makes up for the amount used to fill a pool. A much better way of enforcing savings would be to require people to use pool covers or other methods of reducing evaporation from pools. A 16'x32' pool evaporating 1/4" per day (which is low -- it's 1/3" in some areas) is 80 gallons per day so over 6 months would be 14,400 gallons. There are over 1 million swimming pools in California. If there were going to be restrictions put in place, it would be much better to just require blanket reductions and let people figure out how best to achieve that, though suggesting pool covers would be reasonable. Targeting something like new pool installations doesn't get to the heart of overall water usage.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Agreed, irrigation is a HUGE waste of water. Here in southern AZ, we practice a lot of drought tolerant landscaping and xeriscaping. We also heavily use drip irrigation. I, for the life of me, can not understand why some choose to put grass, even small patches, in their yards here. What an enormous waste of water. I have an 800 sq ft patch of synthetic grass in the back for the kids to play on and it looks and feels great....best of all, it requires no watering, mowing or reseeding. When we lived in southern CA for a few years, I could not believe how heavily landscaped the area was.


    Matt
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Residential doesn't actually use much of the water (~10%):

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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Residential doesn't actually use much of the water (~10%):

    I'm confused. How does a river or wetlands "use" water? Instream flows? And isn't delta outflows necessary to flush the natural salts from freshwater? Isn't that why the ocean is salty and lakes are not? Not sure, just asking.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Throughout the years, the state has reduced the amount of water for human use to redirect for environmental uses. So I think it is important to account for all water usage to keep things in perspective. Nearly half of the water in CA is reserved for environmental reasons.

    But even as a percent of human usage, urban usage is still only 20%. State mandate is to reduce residential usage by 25% but that is only 2.5% of total or 5% of human usage.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Ok, I see the way you look at it. Just that "filling up" a river or lake isn't the same as agriculture or urban use. It is not spending/usage, it is our saving account. It also skews the other percentages.
    Urban use is 20% of the usage instead of 10% of the available water in your calculation. And agriculture is close to 80%.

    IMO, California needs to take charge of its water usage. Mandate conservation or let the people figure it out, but need to cut usage in half.

    While we all hate government intervention until high gas prices in the '70s and CAFE restrictions mandated by the government (who is us by the way) no one thought it was possible to get 20-30 or even 40 mpg with cleaner air. So water usage may need to be mandated also.

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    Converting the average monthly usage in Tucson per household to daily usage an average Tucson household uses 223 gallons per day. The average California household uses 360 gallons per day per the study chemgeek references. And Tucson is a heck of lot hotter than most of California.

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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    It is not spending/usage, it is our saving account.
    Not really because none of the water in that chart is stored. That chart shows only consumed water. Managed Wetlands consumes water via evaporation so they must recharge to maintain a certain level. The delta and rivers flow to the ocean so those are considered lost water or consumed by the ocean.

    IMO, California needs to take charge of its water usage. Mandate conservation or let the people figure it out, but need to cut usage in half.
    There IS a mandated reduction of 25% for Urban users only. My point was that the water saved is very small compared to the other consumers. If they were truly concerned about water levels, they would reduce the allocation across board. But agriculture has a lot of financial influence within the state so they get preferential treatment.

    California agriculture, largely spared in new water restrictions, wields huge clout | The Sacramento Bee
    Mark
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Not really because none of the water in that chart is stored. That chart shows only consumed water. Managed Wetlands consumes water via evaporation so they must recharge to maintain a certain level. The delta and rivers flow to the ocean so those are considered lost water or consumed by the ocean.

    There IS a mandated reduction of 25% for Urban users only. My point was that the water saved is very small compared to the other consumers. If they were truly concerned about water levels, they would reduce the allocation across board. But agriculture has a lot of financial influence within the state so they get preferential treatment.

    California agriculture, largely spared in new water restrictions, wields huge clout | The Sacramento Bee

    I don't live in CA and I don't have a dog in this fight, but I would say that you do have to consider priorities. If you believe that CA agriculture is important to the state from an employment/economic perspective, then there is justification for prioritizing agricultural needs over those of urban/residential needs. But that is a bit of a red-herring. In reality, the bigger issue is whether or not to charge CA farmers actual MARKET rates for the water they consume. I believe that CA farmers pay little to nothing for the water they use based on decades-old laws and water agreements. If they actually had to pay proper water rates based on actual costs, then you'd see a lot of change in CA farming practices and reductions in water usage in that sector through the use of more efficient farming and irrigation practices.

    Just my 2 cent opinion...
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Yes, Mark and JoyfulNoise have excellent points and I was avoiding going into that part of the discussion just focussing on what households could do (since that is what we control directly ourselves). The water rights for agriculture in California are a problem, the too low cost for water is a problem, the lack of regulation of water wells is a problem, the lack of even measuring water usage in some areas is a problem. Many of these are slowly getting addressed but it is true that the cutbacks to residential use aren't the big driver here and everyone needs to cut back. Farmers are getting hit because the State water project has cut back allocations significantly, but it's very uneven (and unfair) since some farmers depended on the State more than others. However, the over use of water from private wells that is going on now is a short-term use that takes many years to replenish so is very, very short-sighted. If the drought continues (and hopefully with El Nino this winter it might get some break), we'll see a big crash in agriculture from the well water depletion.

    So from a high-level perspective of managing resources for the longer term, it's true that agricultural water use is the big driver that really needs to be managed much better. Not to say that waste or misuse in residential areas shouldn't be addressed, but that it won't move the needle as much.

    For residential watering since landscaping is such a big part of that water use, the use of gray or recycled water is something that should be done at least starting with new planned communities (separate water systems using purple pipes exist today, but mostly for commercial/public properties). It makes no sense at all to waste resources bringing water to drinking water quality for landscaping uses and there really should be a two-tiered water system. Water from sinks, laundry, dishwashing and showers could be reused. Also, toilet water and other sewage can be brought to landscape water quality much more easily than to drinking water quality. Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) is where sewage water (so contains toilet water) is brought to drinking water quality (using reverse osmosis and other stages) and will compete with gray water systems where it is less expensive if there is no purple pipe infrastructure but is more expensive when there is (hence future communities and pipe retrofitting should probably include the dual-pipe system and new homes could have localized gray water systems).

    The bottom line is that for most of California it is a "dry summer" state and many areas of it were desert or certainly very dry before we populated it or developed agriculture. We need to remember that in many areas lush landscaping and agriculture are a luxury artificially created and subject to shrinkage if climate change makes the state hotter and drier. If the winters continue to have enough precipitation but are hotter, then the water infrastructure will need more reservoirs or ground water replenishment with less water stored in snowpack.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    Not really because none of the water in that chart is stored. That chart shows only consumed water. Managed Wetlands consumes water via evaporation so they must recharge to maintain a certain level. The delta and rivers flow to the ocean so those are considered lost water or consumed by the ocean.

    There IS a mandated reduction of 25% for Urban users only. My point was that the water saved is very small compared to the other consumers. If they were truly concerned about water levels, they would reduce the allocation across board. But agriculture has a lot of financial influence within the state so they get preferential treatment.

    California agriculture, largely spared in new water restrictions, wields huge clout | The Sacramento Bee
    I might grant you Managed Wetlands as consumed water(although many wetlands are destroyed by nearby pumping of groundwater so maybe we are just giving back what we took) But not rivers, streams or deltas. They are a necessary part of the ecosystem. You seem to want to double the amount of water "consumed" to make the percentages seem less by including natural sources of water as "consumption".

    If California residents didn't consume so much per household, so much more than Phoenix or Tucson residents to name two desert locales, I would buy into your logic. A mandated 25% cutback still puts it above the norm. Not like Californians are being asked to go without showering or laundering, just stop watering lawns and other landscaping some. If you want to continue to live in Cali then get real. Or move to the Midwest

    At least we all agree that agriculture is the main problem. And that as long as we allow donations to lobbyists that will likely continue
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    The chart I posted is not mine but was generated from the state water usage plan. So this is the way the state thinks about water and how they manage water demand and is not meant to diminish the urban usage. Yes, we need to conserve more but the problem is not just about water conservation, it is also a water storage issue. This is not the first time the state has gone through droughts and during the wet periods there is plenty of water to make up for the dry periods, there just isn't anywhere to store the water. The environmentalist also have a very strong lobby.

    But not all areas in CA are equal and the disparity is huge. It is really the LA area and the central valley that uses the most water in California:







    I think these are even lower usage than Tucson.
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    While we can argue all day about the cause of California's water issues, the topic has moved away from the OP's question of using Sea Water to fill a pool. If we can, let's move the conversation back towards his question.

    Thank you,
    Lee

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    Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Mark,

    As reported by Tucson Water -



    Tucsonans average about 88GPCD

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    Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    While we can argue all day about the cause of California's water issues, the topic has moved away from the OP's question of using Sea Water to fill a pool. If we can, let's move the conversation back towards his question.

    Thank you,
    Lee
    I think the idea is impractical for several reasons. Assuming you magically filled your pool with seawater and ignoring the chemical properties I made reference to in an earlier post, then -

    1. What would you need to resurface your pool with to protect the gunite shell?

    2. Traditional decking surfaces would not withstand the high levels of salt from splash out.

    3. Any nearby landscaping would be killed by splash out and the soil would turn sodic leaving it effectively dead to any plant growth.




    Matt
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    Re: Using Sea Water to fill a swimming Pool in California?

    You cannot realistically use seawater in an existing pool if there is exposed metal since most metal in pools was not designed for that high a salt level. Specifically, the stainless steel in a pool and copper in a gas heater won't likely handle the salt water. The water will also not be pleasant on the eyes since it will be too high (35,000 ppm compared to 8000 ppm in tears and eye fluids).
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