In the midst of the state’s four-year drought, the California Pool and Spa Association has launched its “Let’s Pool Together” campaign to promote pools and spas as a drought-friendly landscaping option. The group cites an in-house study that found a standard-size pool plus decking uses one-third the amount of water as an irrigated lawn after an initial fill.
“We’re not saying, ‘Solve the drought, put in a pool,’ but the bottom line is, people who put in a pool are making a decision to do something more water efficient with their backyard. They’re saving water,” John Norwood, the California Pool and Spa Association’s president, told the Associated Press. “Pools are landscaping.”
Many California cities and water districts have imposed bans on new swimming pool permits, filling new swimming pools and draining and refilling existing pools. According to the California Pool and Spa Association website, a well-maintained pool or spa uses less water per day than an irrigated lawn.
“Most pool designs include more than just the pool itself; wooden or concrete decks also replace traditional landscaping and the need for water.” The association says average water savings for a pool’s first year (including filling) are 3,750 gallons, while average water savings for subsequent years total 18,000 gallons compared with an irrigated lawn.
According to the AP, some water conservation experts question the pool industry’s math and caution that the pool vs. lawn calculations depend on too many variables to be reliable. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, told AP the water used for pools and lawns is roughly the same. “These are luxuries and we’re in a really bad drought and everybody needs to step up instead of pointing the finger at the other guy,” Gleick said.