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WITH residential swimming pools and hot tubs consuming less water daily than a single household bath, the UK pool and spa industries are being unfairly criticised in the debate on water metering, says the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association.

“We object to this blatant prejudice against pools, when there is recent evidence from the Office of National Statistics that swimming is the most popular and beneficial form of sporting exercise in the country, helping in the fight against obesity and contributing to the health and safety of the general public,” says Richard Carrington chairman of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association.

“Before imposing further restrictions on paying customers of the water companies, the companies and OFWAT should make more effort to cut leakage losses, which dwarf the water usage of their customers with pools and spas.

“Water metering is not going to address the real issue of major water leakage by the water companies, while they make millions in profits from customers who do not have a choice in suppliers.

“We believe that this emphasis on pools is based more on envy and prejudice than on evidence of pools wasting substantial volumes of water. “

There are an estimated 250,000 pools in residential homes across the UK – the majority of these being outdoor garden pools. About 3,000 pools a year are added as permanent installations with typical costs of about £30,000.

Despite popular opinion, once full, swimming pool owners do not routinely empty their pools. In fact, the only reason for emptying a pool is to carry out repair or maintenance work inside the pool, and even then it is often possible to avoid draining the water by using divers for repair work, or by transferring the water into an inflatable above ground pool for temporary storage while the work is carried out, to be returned when the job is finished.

The volume of an average in-ground domestic swimming pool is about 75,000 litres (10m x 5m x 1.5m). Water loss can occur in two ways:
Evaporation and splashing and/or backwashing the filter to clean it

The net loss from evaporation on an outdoor pool is only around 30 litres a day – less than the water used in a daily 2 minute shower.

Backwashing the average pool will pump some 500 litres in a two minute operation fortnightly, which is equivalent to 36 litres a day.

In total, therefore the average swimming pool uses only 66 litres a day – less than a daily bath, and less than 2 daily showers.

Hot tubs

The average hot tub holds about 1,500 litres. Once filled, it is heated, filtered and chemically treated and the water is recycled within the unit, so no effective water loss takes place. Most hot tubs have a fitted heat retaining cover which, when the tub is not in use, limits the evaporation loss in the same way as a swimming pool, but the potential loss of water through evaporation is minimal due to its much smaller volume. The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association, a sister association to SPATA, recommends that the water in a hot tub is fully changed about every three months for hygiene reasons. This therefore gives an annual water usage of 6,000 litres or 16 litres a day – less than half the water used in a daily two minute shower.

Carrington concludes: “We have research that shows a swimming pool uses about 20 inches per year in comparison to lawn irrigation that uses 49 inches per year.

“It is high time people checked their facts before painting swimming pools as the bad guys of water conservation.”

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Comparison of daily average water usage

-----------------------Litres/day-----------litres/day for a family of 4
Household bath-----------100--------------------400
2 minute shower-----------35--------------------140
domestic pool-------------66---------------------66
hot tub-------------------16---------------------16

Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association
T: 01264 356210

Distributed on behalf of SPATA by Waterland Marketing Tel. 01353 666663 Out of hours: 07590 691802

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