Corp Comm Connects

Aurora to educate pool owners on proper drainage
March 31, 2016
By Teresa Latchford

Aurora pool owners will soon be getting an education in water protection 101.

In June, a local resident approached the town’s environmental advisory committee regarding concerns about the ecological impact of improper pool draining practices in town. The committee then recommended that council consider directing staff to develop a public education strategy to make residents aware of the proper way to discharge wastewater.

Aurora youth, Matthew Abas, spoke in favour of the initiative during this week’s council meeting as he fears a number of pool owners are dumping pool water straight into local streams and creeks.

“Bylaws must be created quickly, because the town has sworn to protect water and waterways in Aurora,” he said. “It is currently cheaper to dump pool water directly into streams.”

He suggests putting in place a more rigorous bylaw and permit system, only allowing pools in less environmentally sensitive areas, licensing pool service companies, requiring pool owners to use these licensed companies and researching what bans other towns and cities have put in place.

Pools are drained for seasonal winterizations and when backwashing filters or carrying out repairs, according to the staff report presented to council earlier this week.

Chlorine, bromine, algaecides, salt and other chemicals used to keep pool water clean can be toxic for local aquatic life and can cause complications when the water is emptied directly into streams, creeks and storm drains.

Water emptied into the municipality’s storm sewer systems is not treated by the town and heads directly to streams, lakes and rivers, the report continued and as long as the chemical concentrations from pool water isn’t high, it is harmless to humans.

Nevertheless, some municipalities, like Mississauga, have set more regulatory measures to stop residents from draining their pools into storm sewers and local watercourses.

With pool opening season just around the corner, town staff recommended the education component of the strategy begin next month.

“This is phase (No.) 1 of the strategy,” director of building and bylaw services Techa van Leeuwen said. “It is our bylaw officers who inspect the property before issuing a permit and can physically hand out the information.”

Councillor Wendy Gaertner pointed out there are 150 pools in town that back onto a stream or creek and asked what those owners can do when emptying water.

One option is not to discharge water when chemical levels are high, director of planning and development services Marco Ramunno said, while the second is to slowly discharge water on one’s own property so it is naturally filtered through the ground.

Council gave the public education strategy a green light.