Want to Save Water? Build a Pool, Says the Pool Industry

Illustration for article titled Want to Save Water? Build a Pool, Says the Pool Industry

Sure, you’re already doing a lot to save water—plucking the almonds from your granola each morning and shaming your grass-owning neighbors daily on Twitter. But when will you get serious about the drought and install a pool?

That’s the logic currently being promoted by a group of pool industry lobbyists who are claiming that pools save water. Here’s the argument: An in-ground pool is better for the drought because it uses about a third less of the amount of water required to keep a lawn of the same size green and lush, the California Pool and Spa Association tells the AP:

“We’re not saying, ‘Solve the drought, put in a pool,’ but the bottom line is people who put in a pool are making a decision to do something more water efficient with their backyard. They’re saving water,” said John Norwood, the California Pool and Spa Association’s president. “Pools are landscaping.”


By positioning a pool not as a frivolous McMansion accoutrement but as a “landscaping element” which can replace a water-guzzling lawn, the Let’s Pool Together campaign turns pool owners into saviors when it comes to water scarcity. A splashy website offers resources and information on how YOU can join the conservational elite, saving water by chlorinating tens of thousands of gallons of it for your own backyard recreation.

Illustration for article titled Want to Save Water? Build a Pool, Says the Pool Industry

“California is facing an unprecedented drought! Pool owners are already saving water. But we can all do more!”

Among the information presented are “pool facts” for homeowners. For example: “Did you know a bath uses 70 gallons of water? Spas and hot tubs are just as relaxing and save water!” Or try this one: A pool includes decks and patios around it, argues the site, which means even less grass will be planted in a backyard. Also, important note for the kids: Pools can save water but not if you’re having fun in them! Too much splashing wastes water. SORRY KIDS.

Someday we won’t have any more lawns, just pools

Could this propaganda generated by the aquatic-industrial complex be accurate? Here’s what Let’s Pool Together claims: “On average, water use, including filling, in the first year a pool is installed is 26,250 gallons. An 800 square-foot lawn uses approximately 30,000 gallons per year.”


The average American pool is about 20,000 gallons in size and then, yes, you have to refill it. While it’s harder to estimate the average amount of water used to keep a lawn green depending on yard size, turf type, and climate, it’s certainly feasible that a homeowner could use 30,000 gallons of water to water a lawn over the course of a year. The average American household uses 300 gallons of water a day, and about a third of that is water used outside the home itself. So yes, technically the math is correct.

Illustration for article titled Want to Save Water? Build a Pool, Says the Pool Industry

How to keep your pool drought-friendly: Put on a cover to prevent evaporation and NO cannonballs

But unfortunately for everyone, pool sales are down—way down—as cities in the more-arid-than-normal West are putting a freeze on approving new pool permits or preventing homeowners from filling and topping off pools. Why would cities do this when clearly pools are the answer to all our water problems???


If you want to build a pool to help the people of California—because why else would you want one, really?—start by tearing out your lawn. Many cities offer lawn buyback incentives, so perhaps you could use that to help finance this initial investment required for your own drought-busting infrastructure.

But you actually don’t even need to go through the effort of installing the actual pool to make a difference. Just dig a big hole in your backyard—big enough to bury $20,000 in cash. Then simply water your lawn-less yard half as much as you did the year before. Voila, you’ve saved water!




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Or just (GASP!) let your lawn go brown.