Draining Backyard Swimming Pools

Your pool and spa water can be toxic to aquatic life in our creeks and streams. Drain pools and spas responsibly.

Guidelines for Draining Pools and Spas

  1. Don’t drain pool and spa water into street, gutter, intakes, storm drains, or water ways. Draining pool and spa water to a storm sewer system or waterways is illegal and subject to fines and penalties.

  2. Pool and spa water can be discharged to the sanitary sewer system if done per City requirements and guidelines.

  3. If unable to drain to the sanitary sewer, a swimming pool or spa can be drained onto the ground as long as: 
    1. Prior to draining the water is left sitting for at least seven days without adding salt, chlorine or other chemicals. 
    2. Chlorine levels are below 0.1 mg/L and the pH between 6.5 and 8.5.
    3. It is discharged across at least 15 feet of grass (not concrete) to allow any remaining chemicals to dissipate before reaching a storm drain or receiving water. 
    4. The water flow should be kept low, about 12 gallons per minute to prevent erosion of soil and landscaping.

Tips for Finding your Sanitary Sewer Clean Out

  • If your kitchen or bathroom is on an exterior wall of your house, look along that wall for the clean out.
  • Check your property or sidewalk for a small concrete or metal cover marked “sewer”.
  • Look for a small circular cap on a pipe. This may be located on the ground or the side of your home.
  • When discharging pool or spa water into the sanitary sewer clean out, keep the water flow low to avoid filling the sanitary sewer pipe too quickly resulting in an overflow.
  • To verify an allowable release rate based on the size of the sanitary sewer clean out, contact City Engineering at 563-589-4270.

Did You Know?

  • Draining swimming pools and spas to storm drains can pollute creeks, streams, rivers and lakes with copper, chlorine and other chemicals.
  • Storm drains flow directly into our waterways without treatment.
  • Chlorine and copper are toxic at low levels to aquatic life.
  • Bromine and peroxide are also disinfectants and oxidizers and will have the same effect in our waters as chlorine.
  • Chlorine is toxic to fish and other aquatic life at very low levels. Chlorine burns the gills and fins of fish, destroys sensory organs, interferes with the ability of fish to find food, and causes internal organ damage. If the receiving water contains a lot of decaying, organic matter (from decaying plants, algae and bacteria) and chlorine it can combine with the byproducts to form compounds called trihalomethanes, which are persistent in the aquatic environment and post a health threat to living things for a long time.
  • Copper is found in pipes and used as an algaecide in swimming pools. It is a pollutant that directly threatens aquatic life.  Excess copper in water causes the formation of acid pH levels, burns the gills of fish, interferes with respiration, and causes internal organ damage.

Helpful Resources