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Thread: Rain barrel

  1. #1
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    Default Rain barrel

    Back story: We just bought this house in Oct. When we moved in, we replaced the water softener with a combo softener/carbon filter (wanted to remove chlorine and other contaminates from the water). Unfortunately, ALL of the plumbing in the house including the ouside spigots are softened/filtered. Since softened water is bad for plants (and we have to pay for water), we are going to be adding a rain barrel to our house soon.
    One more pertinent piece of info... The alkilinity of our city water is at least 320ppm. The potentially low ph of rainwater would help the process of lowering the alkilinity of the pool. And not only would the rainwater keep from raising the alkilinit every time I add water, but it would actually dilute the alkilinity further (and it's free). So, my questions are:
    1) what are the risks or downsides to using rainwater for refilling our pool?
    2) what are the "best practices" for doing so (pre-treating the water, filtering it somehow, adding it through the skimmer, something else I'm not thinking of right now)?
    -Eric B. 16x32 rect 14,364 gal AG (Intex Ultra Frame); 14 in sand filter; 1 HP 2800 GPH pump; 8 hrs; Taylor K-2006c, utility water, debris cover
    @Best Guess chart http://pool9.net/cl-cya @K2006 http://pool9.net/testkits

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    Default Re: Rain barrel

    We all dilute out pools with rainwater.

    How big a rain barrel are you considering?

    I wouldn't put any of those mosquito pucks people use in rain barrels in the pool water. How about chlorinating with bleach just like the pool?
    12'x24' oval 7.7K gal AG vinyl pool; ; Hayward S270T sand filter; Hayward EcoStar SP3400VSP pump; hrs; K-2006; PF:16

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    Default Re: Rain barrel

    1. Softened water is not bad for plants. (Who told you that?)

    2. Softeners don't remove chlorine. Carbon filters do, but may become dangerously contaminated with bacteria as a result. Some manufacturers add silver, in various forms, to try to prevent this from happening.

    3. If you are collecting rain water using downspouts . . . depending on the area, you may get a significant burst of avian feces (bird crap) added to the water. If you have a rain after several weeks of no rain, the contamination may be especially heavy. Your pool filter + chlorine + TIME can clean this up, but you'd need to add the rain water via the skimmer so the added water goes through the filter before it goes to the pool (to remove particles). And, you'd need to be sure you have adequate chlorine (per the Best Guess chart). Finally, you'd need to wait 12 hours after adding the water, before swimming.

    Using small amounts of polyquat in your rain water, as you collect it will (a) help sanitize it and (b) make chlorine-resistant amoebic parasites easier to filter out. (Polyquat will NOT kill these.)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rain barrel

    -Not sure how big it is... Someone has a rain barrel they are giving to us
    -Chlorinating the water would probably not be very good for the plants I'm guessing. Maybe I'm wrong there?
    -I've always heard softened water is bad for plants because of the salt content. Even if that's incorrect, we still have to pay for the water and we are also softening water that definitely doesn't NEED to be softened.
    -i know softeners don't remove chlorine... We have a combination softener/carbon filter unit that does both
    -great info on the issues surrounding using rainwater from downspouts. Sound like more trouble than it's worth. Based on what I've already stated, if you were in my shoes, would you mess with it? Maybe the benefits do outweigh the hassle involved? Or is it simply not worth it for refilling the pool (just stick to watering plants/lawn)?
    -and IF I decide to do this and use polyquat for the purposes you mentioned, is polyquat safe for plants?
    -Eric B. 16x32 rect 14,364 gal AG (Intex Ultra Frame); 14 in sand filter; 1 HP 2800 GPH pump; 8 hrs; Taylor K-2006c, utility water, debris cover
    @Best Guess chart http://pool9.net/cl-cya @K2006 http://pool9.net/testkits

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    Default Re: Will swimming pool water hurt house and garded plants?

    On the one hand, I have never seen any study or tests on how pool water with specific pool chemicals present affects house plants.

    On the other hand, I have seen a BUNCH Of pool water hit decks and deck plants, drain on to border plants, be backwashed on to lawns, etc. And I have NEVER heard or read of a case of plant damage.

    I did a quick Google on the topic, and found a LOT of advice saying that pool water would hurt plants, on pages like this one, http://www.gardenguides.com/128409 : "Will Pool Water Hurt My Tomato Plants?" -- "It is not a good idea to water your tomato plants with water from a swimming pool. This water has chlorine which can be deadly to a tomato plant. This chemical can burn the roots of the plant and kill it. It may also contaminate the soil for future crops."

    But, take a look at the author's CV: Misty Amber Brighton has been writing for 10 years. Her writing experience includes Trails Travels and GolfLink. She is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces and attends South University. Obviously, a real "expert" -- NOT!

    There seem to be a few answers from semi-authoritative sources, like this one, http://www.spectrumanalytic.com/supp...rby_Plants.htm : 'According to Clemson University, "There should be no effect of pool water splashed on nearby plants from normal pool use. Larger plants (and animals) can tolerate the concentrations that are recommended for pool water."'

    They also quote 'Dr. Alison Osinski (Aquatic Consulting Services, San Diego, CA) suggests, "If the pool or spa water has a high chlorine content, uncover it and allow the chlorine to dissipate before using the water for irrigating the landscape. Or, chemically remove the chlorine by adding solium thiosulfate of sodium sulfite to the water."'. But I've met Ms Osinski, have also suffered through some classes she taught -- I"m NOT impressed; her statement here is typically of the lawyerly, cautious, and rather uninformed answers I've learned to expect from her. She has carved out a career as an aquatic legal consultant, but in my opinion her successes in that area are much more a result of the (a) exceedingly low levels of expertise in the pool industry, and (b) her very effective PR skills, than they are of real knowledge on her part. Her PhD is in phys-ed! (To be fair, she genuinely is an expert at parroting standard pool-industry answers, and can cite 'authoritative' sources. That's probably what you want in a court case.)

    Bottom line: I do NOT KNOW that pool water is safe on all plants. But I do know that the statements which indicate that pool water hurts plans all seem to come from uninformed or ignorant sources. The few statements saying pool water will not hurt plants seem to come from more informed sources. Plus, my own field experience, added the reports here, support the idea that pool water is 'plant-safe'.

    BUT . . . there's always the exception. Pool water, especially from high salt pools such as those using a SWCG, might be damaging in areas (like Arizona or New Mexico), where the water is likely to evaporate and leave all the salt, etc behind. For this reason, I'd be cautious about using pool water as the primary source of plant water in very dry areas.

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    Default Re: Will swimming pool water hurt house and garded plants?

    We had been having problems with the health of our house plants after moving to our new house with a water softener. The local nursery folks advised that the salt content, over a long term (a year or so) can cause the effects we were seeing. We switched to well water and after a few months the health rebounded. We did lose a few. The softened water is also our pool fill water. Probably why my CH is low (170). I guess I should test my fill water.

    I remember washing down the decks at a community pool with pool water as a lad. The grass next to the deck was alway green and healthy.
    In-ground gunite 16 x 30 13,000 gal. Full screen enclosure. 120 sq ft. Filter cartridge, 1-1/2 HP pump. Master Pools In-floor cleaner. Taylor K-2006.

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    Default Re: Will swimming pool water hurt house and garded plants?

    Quote Originally Posted by nefretrameses View Post
    The local nursery folks advised that the salt content, over a long term (a year or so) can cause the effects we were seeing. We switched to well water and after a few months the health rebounded.

    Makes sense. Indoor plants lose water to evaporation, so all the salts and minerals in the water used, end up staying in the pot soil. Outdoors, rain flushes those accumulating salts away. So, no problem. Indoors, a little more salt accumulates every time the plant is watered, resulting in problems.
    Last edited by PoolDoc; 07-30-2013 at 04:46 PM. Reason: fix typo

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    Default Re: Will swimming pool water hurt house and garded plants?

    Exactly, especially if they are closed bottom pots.
    In-ground gunite 16 x 30 13,000 gal. Full screen enclosure. 120 sq ft. Filter cartridge, 1-1/2 HP pump. Master Pools In-floor cleaner. Taylor K-2006.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Rain barrel

    FYI, I opted not to use rainwater from my roof... Instead, when there is rainwater on the auto cover, I have been pumping that into the skimmer instead of into the drain. This has significantly reduced the amount of city water I have needed to use for refilling.
    -Eric B. 16x32 rect 14,364 gal AG (Intex Ultra Frame); 14 in sand filter; 1 HP 2800 GPH pump; 8 hrs; Taylor K-2006c, utility water, debris cover
    @Best Guess chart http://pool9.net/cl-cya @K2006 http://pool9.net/testkits

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