I just moved to Las Vegas last fall and we bought a house with a pool. Since it was the end of the season, I just threw the cover on it and cleaned it on occasion, running the filter about an hour a day and adding a bit of chemicals.
Fast forward to this last week. I bought a new pool cover (the old one was coming apart) and started to prep the pool for the summer season. I checked the water and had ~1000 CH and ~150 CYA. Pool drain time.
Last week, I did a ~40% drain of the pool, using Richard320's brilliant idea of using the pool water for the vegetation around my house (no grass, this is Vegas ). I used soft water from the house to replace the water. My CH got down to ~700 and my CYA was ~100.
One more partial drain this week, watering the plants. Again, I used soft water from my house. I just checked my water and have 400 CH and 60 CYA. Shocking (SLAM) the pool right now and will need to fix the TA with some muriatic acid. Will also add 10 boxes of Borax to get some borates in the water, but it's looking good so far.
OK, here's what I'd like to pass on to the community (for those of you who live in hard water areas):
I took soft water from my house the same way I did it a few years ago in Tucson. I hooked a garden hose up to my washing machine cold water outlet and ran it through my house out the back door (wife HATES that I do this, but it's temporary) to my pool. I have the water softener set to automatically recharge when it's 97% depleted. The house came with a fairly new Kenmore model 350 water softener. I can run water for several hours before the soft water is depleted; my technique is to check to see if the water softener is cycling at ~4 hours and then follow up every 30 minutes or so, reducing my time down to 15 minutes. I normally hear the water softener drain water at the start of the softening cycle so the checks aren't critical, but I want to make sure I'm putting soft water into the pool.
And I also hook the hose up to the washing machine water hookup when I wash our cars so I use soft water.
I hope this helps some who battle hard water.
When my CH increases this summer due to autofilling with hard water, I'll drain a bit more and refill with soft water. I'll be using only bleach to keep up my chlorine levels until the CYA levels get low enough to allow me to use the chlorine pucks.
Thanks to all of the contributors on this website; it's made pool maintenance an easy task.