Swimming Pool and Spa Draining

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Did You Know that Draining Your Swimming Pool or Spa May be Harming the Environment?

Water in swimming pools and spas is treated with a variety of chemicals (such as chlorine and algaecides) to keep organisms from living in it. When swimming pool and spa water is drained to the City’s storm drain system it will eventually reach local creeks, rivers, and the ocean untreated. The City’s storm drain system consists of roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, human-made channels, and storm drains. Improper disposal of pool water, filter materials, and chemicals to the storm drain system can cause serious damage and even kill plant and animal life. Whoever drains or maintains a swimming pool or spa is ultimately responsible for preventing pollutants from entering the storm drain system.

Can I Drain My Swimming Pool and Spa Water to the City’s Storm Drain System/Street?

Yes, but before swimming pool and spa water can be drained to the storm drain system/street the following steps should be followed.

  • Always maintain your swimming pool and spa properly. Swimming pools and spas should not require draining more than once every 5 to 10 years if properly maintained.
  • Consider draining and refilling one third to one half of the pool volume at a time. Full drainage may be required to make repairs or prevent equipment damage.
  • Be aware the City does not allow swimming pool and spa water or associated wastes from the operation or maintenance of swimming pools and spas to be disposed into the sanitary sewer through sewer clean-outs.
  • Do not drain swimming pools or spas into septic systems as it may cause system failure.
  • Let the swimming pool or spa sit for at least five days without adding chlorine or other agents to clear water of potential pollutants.
  • Remove/filter all debris, algae, plants, and/or mosquitoes that may be in the water prior to draining. Water should appear clear and clean when drained.
  • Make certain that the water draining from your swimming pool or spa will not push over trash bins, flood streets, and not pick up dirt, lawn clippings, leaves, or other debris as it makes its way downstream to a storm drain inlet.
  • Prior to draining water, perform water quality tests, using at home pool testing kits or a local pool service company, to ensure swimming pool and/or spa water planned to be drained meet water quality requirements.

Swimming pool and spa water may only be drained to the City’s storm drain system/street if the following water quality requirements/conditions are met: 

  • Chlorine concentration below 0.1 mg/L*
  • Bromine concentration below 0.1 mg/L*
  • pH should not be below 6.5 or above 8.5
  • Shall not contain swimming pool detergents, wastes, algeacides, or cyanuric acid in excess of 50 ppm, or any other chemical including salts from “salt water pools”. Water should appear clear and clean when drained.
  • Volumetrically and velocity controlled to prevent re-suspension of sediment down-gradient of discharge.
  • Discharges of filter backwash and/or swimming pools containing bacteria are prohibited.
    • mg/L: milligram per liter; ppm: parts per million
    • *Swimming pool/spa water discharges may be dechlorinated/debrominated using time, aeration, sodium thiosulfate, and/or any other applicable method. Swimming pool/spa water discharged directly to ocean are not subject to chlorine/bromine prohibition.

Check out the VCCCW pool brochures here! (English) (Spanish)

Do I Need a Permit from the City to Drain my Swimming Pool or Spa to the Storm Drain System/Street?

No, the City does not require a permit for the draining of swimming pools and spas to the storm drain system/street. However, swimming pool and spa water drained to storm drain system/street needs to meet water quality requirements/conditions outlined above. The City requests home owner and/or responsible parties to complete and submit the Swimming Pool and Spa Draining to Storm Drain System (MS4) Form to the Environmental Sustainability Division prior to draining. Failure to follow suggested steps and best management practices outlined above can result in the discharge of swimming pool and spa water above water quality requirements/conditions, which can be subject to enforcement action by the City.

Swimming Pool and Spa Draining to City Storm Drain System (MS4) Form

Can I Discharge a Saltwater Swimming Pool or Spa to the Street? 

Saltwater swimming pools and spas are prohibited and illegal to be drained to the storm drain system/street or sanitary sewer system. Local creeks and rivers are very sensitive to salt concentrations and discharges can cause serious damage and even kill plants and animals downstream. Disposal of saltwater swimming pool and spa water must be hauled via truck to a proper waste facility.  

Where Do I Dispose of Swimming Pool and Spa Filter Material and Wash Water?

Monthly operation and maintenance is important for proper upkeep of swimming pools and spas. Never dispose of filter material, debris, wash water or other maintenance related wastes into the street, gutter or storm drain system. Wastewater from filter cleaning is prohibited from leaving your property and cannot be disposed of into the sanitary sewer. If you are hosing off a filter with water, do so over a lawn, planter box, or other vegetated or dirt area that will absorb the water. Collect filter materials (such as diatomaceous earth filter media) in a filter cloth and dispose of material properly in a trash bin.

Have Pool Chemicals You Need to Dispose?

Most unwanted pool chemicals must be disposed as hazardous waste. Pool owners should always read directions on the back of chemical containers before using in swimming pools and spas and prior to disposal. The City hosts free monthly Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Events for Ventura residents to properly dispose of hazardous materials. Pool chemicals can be disposed of at HHW events. Pool maintenance companies and other businesses that generate small amounts of hazardous waste, such as pool chemicals, can also participate in monthly HHW events. Pool chemicals can pose serious hazards. Homeowners are responsible for any contamination released into the environment. If you have questions regarding how and where to dispose of unwanted pool chemicals please contact the City’s Environmental Sustainability division at (805) 652-4525.

Why is this Process Necessary?

By complying with these water quality requirements residents are making a significant contribution toward keeping harmful pollutants out of local creeks, rivers, and the ocean. The City of Ventura is a Permittee under NPDES Permit NO. CAS004002 regulating the discharge of storm water and non-storm water to the City’s storm drain system also referred to as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). NPDES Permit NO. CAS004002 sets strict discharge requirements for swimming pool and spa draining and their associated operations and maintenance activities.

How Can I Find Out More About Swimming Pool and Spa Draining?

Please contact the City’s Environmental Sustainability Division if you have questions about pollution prevention or need additional information - (805) 652-4525.