Are Swimming Pools A Waste of Water?

All too often, we’re shown footage of disaster scenarios such as droughts and wildfires. Water scarcity brings up the question of what we can do to conserve water. Many are skeptical of pools since large amounts of water are used for primarily recreational purposes.

Pools don’t waste as much water as you would expect after they’re filled. The average pool loses about ¼” (0.64 cm) of water per day, equal to 7.5″ (19.05 cm) a month, or 90″ (228.6 cm) per year. That may seem like a lot, but it’s much less than many sprinkler systems.

In this article, I explain how your pool loses water, and provide ways you can conserve pool water. When you finish this article you’ll be able to enjoy a pool’s benefits with minimum water waste. If you have been thinking about a pool but are worried about conservation, read on.

pool waste water

How Swimming Pool Water Is Used

Even though swimming pools seem like they would waste a lot of water, most of the water is filtered and reused. This isn’t only the case in small privately-owned pools but large commercial pools and theme parks as well.

Swimming pools mostly reuse their water instead of adding new water, but multiple scenarios contribute to water usage. Below are some examples of where water loss comes into play.

Filling Your Pool

The biggest waste of water with swimming pools is when they are filled. Usually, this is not a common occurrence unless the chemicals are too unbalanced to correct or repairs need to be completed.

The average swimming pool uses 18,000-20,000 gal (68,137.41-75,708.24 L) to fill, but they aren’t drained often. Draining a pool should only be resorted to when no other options are available.

The only time you should empty your pool is when a major repair is needed or to rebalance your TDS (total dissolved solids). It’s recommended that you never drain your in-ground pool for regular cleaning or maintenance.

If you continuously drain and refill your pool, there’s most likely an issue that you or a professional should address.

Pool Water Loss

As expected, your pool loses water daily, up to a quarter of an inch (0.64 cm). A few factors contribute to an additional loss and significantly increase the amount of wasted water.

Below are some components that contribute to higher water usage:

  • Dry vs. humid climate: Dry climates cause considerably more evaporation, as opposed to humid environments. Since humid climates already have a good amount of water in the air, they don’t take as much water from pools and other water sources.
  • Sun exposure: Pools exposed to a lot of direct sunlight for many hours a day will lose more water than shady settings. The sun heating the water encourages more evaporation, causing owners to spend more time adding new water to their pool.
  • High usage: If you’ve ever witnessed a group of kids, or adults for that matter, using a swimming pool, you may be able to see how high usage affects the amount of water wasted. With all of the splashing, water gets wasted at a much higher rate. Water waste also occurs if people are continuously getting in and out of the pool.
  • Lack of rain: Most of the daily pool water evaporation can be replaced by rain. If your area isn’t getting as much rain as expected, that may require owners to add more water.

How To Conserve Pool Water

If you’re concerned about your pool wasting too much water, there are a few ways to keep more of your water in the pool without having to refill it. Let’s take a closer look at these methods.

Solar Pool Covers

Putting a solar cover on your pool such as the Intex Solar Cover drastically cuts down the amount of evaporation that occurs. The Intex solar cover can cut back 95% of evaporation.

Creating a protective layer between the elements and your pool water helps cut down water waste and keeps the water in your pool longer. And by absorbing and trapping the heat of the sun, a solar pool cover also helps keep your pool water at a comfortable temperature.

Pool Pump Timers

If you are running your pool pump continuously, you are wasting water and electricity. By putting your pool pump on a scheduled timer, you can ensure your water stays filtered without unnecessary wear on your pump or strain on your electric bill.

An outdoor timer such as the BN-LINK Plug-in Timer will save you money and extend the life of your pump. This waterproof product is programmable in 15-minute intervals, making it safe for outdoor use.

Do Not Overfill Your Pool

Pool water levels should be kept between ⅓ and ½ way up the pool skimmer for the skimmer to work correctly. Keeping your pool water levels at the lower end of that suggested position will help you save water in the pool by reducing splash-over.

Wind and splash over are other reasons why pools can waste more water, and having the level lower reduces the amount of water pushed over the side.

Pool Leaks

Another way to keep your pool from wasting water is addressing leaks promptly. Leaks are one of the main concerns pool owners have, and they can cause serious issues.

If you have an autofill on your pool, leaks can be challenging to detect since your water level remains relatively the same. This scenario causes a substantial amount of water to go to waste until the leak is realized.

If you think that you may have a pool leak, you can use a product such as the EcoCLean Water Tracing Dye. This product traces leaks easily making it convenient to test pool flow patterns.

Add Landscaping

As previously mentioned, direct sunlight is one reason why pool owners continuously add water to their pools. Adding plants and shrubbery to your pool deck can provide shade and cause less water to evaporate.

Look for plants that are suited for your climate and easy to care for.

Fences and high hedges can also provide a buffer against winds and breezes. Wind can cause increased evaporation, which is why we hang clothes out on a line to dry them. When you put up a windbreak you help limit that water loss.

Rain Collection

Many pool owners wanting to conserve water tend to rely on rain as a primary water source. Many geographical areas can use rain to make up the water that has been lost to evaporation.

Some owners take it a step further by gathering more rain than what naturally collects in their pool space. By adding a pipe or collection system to your filtered gutter, you can reroute the rainwater that lands on your roof into your pool.

Due to the PH level of rainwater, you’ll have to adjust your pool chemicals more often, but some owners find it worth it.

Pool Benefits

Pools require a lot of water and maintenance, but it’s only a waste if you’re not gaining benefits to outweigh the extra water and money.

Swimming pools have a variety of uses, such as the following:

Exercise and fitness: Swimming is a very low impact and fun way to get exercise. Also, unlike a gym membership, you can work out without driving to a separate location.

A fun activity for family and friends: Putting in a pool often encourages family and friends to stop by, especially during the hot summer months. A backyard pool also encourages your immediate family to get together, making your weeknights feel like the weekend.

Stress relief: Many people enjoy floating around the pool after work or even on a lunch break if possible. Giving yourself a mental break often will leave you recharged and ready to conquer the rest of your day.

Helps kids expend energy: During those breaks from school, an activity to get the kids moving and outside is always welcome. Pools are perfect for getting their energy out and providing a fun activity to keep them coming back for more. Many pools get weekly or even daily use during the summer months.

Opportunity to teach kids how to swim: It’s always a good idea for everyone to know how to swim, just in case you are placed in a scenario where you have to. Having a backyard pool is a great way to learn in a relaxed setting.


Pools use relatively little water if maintained correctly. While pools lose some water due to weather and usage, they should not need to be filled often, which is the main scenario that requires a large amount of water.

If you want to conserve water, the most important thing you can do is use a solar pool cover daily to reduce evaporation. Solar covers keep the water in the pool rather than evaporating into the atmosphere.

Owners also need to pay very close attention to their water levels to detect leaks and not add too much water quickly.


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