Old Swimming Pool Water Finds New Life

The City of Burbank (California) has identified a new source of recycled water that is used for irrigation and the cleaning of sewer lines

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As the cannonballs wind down and the new year revs up, the City of Burbank, California, now gets creative with the leftover water that remains in its McCambridge Pool.

The concrete swimming pool built back in the 1960s has traditionally been drained and left empty at the end of each season in order to avoid the need to continue operating the pumps and adding chemicals when the pool is not in use; this also provides opportunities for painting and other care and maintenance.

That water previously entered the storm drain system and eventually flowed into the Los Angeles River and out into the Pacific Ocean, but thanks to a newly adopted practice this pool water has found new purpose throughout the city.

First, the water is dechlorinated, explains Bonnie Teaford, public works director with the City of Burbank. “Chlorine breaks down over time,” she says, “so it took a few days until we found that the chlorine had dissipated.”

From there, the water is ready to be pumped out of the pool. “Basically we use a vacuum pump that we put in the pool and a hose that goes up into our sewer trucks that pumps the water from the pool into the sewer trucks,” Teaford explains.

This fall, crews used a Multiquip QP4TZT10P Trash Pump with a top pumping capacity of 526 gallons per minute and a running time of approximately 1.9 hours to pump an estimated 70,000 gallons total.

With the pool deck located about 15 feet below the parking area, Teaford says it took two crew members roughly 30 minutes to get the pump and hoses set up. As the water trucks or sewer cleaning trucks came in, it took about 15 minutes each time to fill up.

“Water is heavy, you know, and to move it is very laborious,” she says. “It took a little bit of labor but not a whole lot, and our crews are always willing to jump in and try something new, so it worked out very well.”

Last year as this concept was implemented for the first time, the recycled water was used for irrigating a ball field located next to the pool, cleaning sewer lines, controlling dust at the municipal landfill, and watering municipally owned city street trees. This time around, the recycled water has been used mainly for sewer cleaning and parkway watering.

Any water that the pumps were not able to capture was sent down the storm drain system, but because the Los Angeles River does support aquatic life even this water doesn’t completely go to waste, Teaford notes.

The unique recycling idea first came about during a brainstorming session that involved a variety of key stakeholders. “At the end of last year when it was time to empty the pool there were tens of thousands of gallons of water sitting in this pool,” says Teaford. “So the Park Department, the Public Works Department, our Sewer Division and our Landfill Division all got together and asked, ‘How can we repurpose this perfectly good water during a drought?’

“Filling from our recycled water hydrants is more convenient,” Teaford adds, “but we wanted to be able to demonstrate to the public that during this severe drought, the city is doing what we can to conserve any water we can. It was another good reminder to the public to be mindful of their own water usage.”

Despite the impetus behind this new method, now that the logistics have been ironed out and the city has found success, Teaford anticipates that this practice will likely continue every time the pool is drained, drought or not.


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