City, DEP asking pool owners to drain responsibly

The outdoor swimming season is winding down.

The City of Warren and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are asking pool owners to think about where their pool water is going.

“Discharged pool water containing chlorine and other chemicals can be detrimental to aquatic life if not handled responsibly,” according to a Wednesday DEP release. “It is extremely important that these waters are handled correctly.”

Pool water that ends up in a storm sewer will go directly into a waterway where it could result in “fish kills and unsafe aquatic conditions.”

“Swimming pool water is classified as gray water.” City of Warren Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said. “Gray water such as that is not supposed to go into a storm sewer. The proper way to drain water out of your swimming pool is to drain it into the sanitary sewer.”

While a bathtub could be used to drain pool water a clean-out — a capped access point to the sewer line inside or outside the home — may be more efficient.

Holtz said the city does not require residents to ask for permission to drain pools into the sanitary sewer system because most residents paid sewer charges on the water that went into their pools in the first place.

“Don’t plug into the inlet or the catch basin along the road,” he said. “Those do not go to the sewer plant, they go to the river.”

“Pool owners and professional pool cleaners need to dispose of old water appropriately and conscientiously,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “Most of all, we need to make sure the wastewater is going into the sanitary sewer, where allowed — not into our storm sewers where it will run into streams and could harm aquatic life.”

DEP suggests:

¯ “Pool water may be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system;

¯ never dispose of pool water through a storm sewer, which will discharge to a stream;

¯ if lowering the water level of the pool, let it drain to a lawn to prevent it from running off into a storm sewer; and

¯if a sanitary sewer system is not available, water may be used for irrigation if it does not run off the property or into a storm sewer.”

“The discharge of swimming pool water to any waters of the commonwealth without a permit is a violation of the Clean Streams Law,” according to DEP. “Property owners and pool companies that violate this law may be subject to enforcement.”