We've been keeping our eye on the Bay Area El Nino Forecast for 2015. They say it's almost certainly, probably, most likely going to rain. Hopefully the forecast is more drought-busting and less media hype, because our valley pools desperately need rainwater.
The 4th year of drought has brought a host of problems to our valley water quality. We're seeing a high total dissolved solid (TDS) count to the molecular structure of water. Anything entering the water (dirt, dust, cosmetics, sunblock & chemicals) contributes to a high TDS count. When water starts to achieve a TDS count of 3000 parts per million (PPM), pool water starts to become "tired", meaning it's difficult for water to absorb any additives, making it a struggle to achieve proper chemical balance, particularly in well water pools.
Rainwater is important to dilute the high TDS counts. As discussed in our previous blog post, our valley water supply is also carrying a high TDS count due to lack of rains to fill the aquifers. I call this "condensing the soup".
Let's assume we're going to have a wet winter. You will want to take extra precautions to prepare for winter storms, particularly if you live near a valley creek or stream.
1. Keep you pool full of water. Do not drain the water. It's important to swap water out, but you have to be very careful when draining the pool down when we are experiencing large amounts of rain. The reason for this is that once our ground has been saturated, pools can become buoyant. The weight of the water in the pool keeps the pool from floating out of the ground. The key is to gradually pump small amounts of water out the pool. Covered swimming pools should also consider letting the rain water dilute some of those high TDS counts. Of course, safety being the number one concern when opening the cover.
2. Clear your drains and consider installing screens on deck drains to keep the water moving. Keeping your deck drains clear and flowing will help prevent flooding. By code, all decking around a pool has a gradual slope away from the pool opening. During times of extreme rainfall, the slope will make no difference. Ideally you divert the flow of water from the pool to avoid a dirt and mud clean-up.
3. Test your cover pumps. Cover pumps can fail, and you do not want to be stuck in a storm without one ready. Our distributors run out of cover pumps pretty quickly in a storm. Testing them in advance is important. If your covered pool does not have a working cover pump, the weight of the water on top of your cover will push down on the surface water of your pool, displacing thousands of gallons of pool water. This can flood your cover vault and destroy the automatic pool cover motor and damage the ropes, pulleys and drum, a costly repair.
4. Take precautions to prevent patio furniture and toys from causing damage in high winds.
5. Maintain balance. Due to the addition of large quantities of water, your pool can become unbalanced, lowering your chlorine levels, alkalinity, etc. which can cause pool surface problems, not to mention damage to your equipment and overall aesthetics of your pool. It's important to manage your chemicals, even during a rainstorm.
6. Protect your pool equipment. Sandbagging around your equipment can prevent costly repairs if you suspect your pool is in a flood zone. If your pool does flood with mud, turn the system off. You do not want to inundate your equipment with large amounts of debris, dirt and mud.
It's good to keep your eye on the local weather. If the weatherman is predicting large amounts of rain. A few preventative steps will save you quite a bit in clean up and repair bills.