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Friday, May 22, 2009


Clean Streams Law Prohibits Discharging Chlorinated Water to Storm Sewers

PITTSBURGH — As warm summer months approach, private and public pool owners, as well as pool management companies, should remember that pool and chlorinated wastewater must be handled responsibly, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Regional Director Ken Bowman said today.

“For many pool owners, Memorial Day heralds the start of swimming season,” Bowman said. “Almost every spring, as swimming pools are cleaned and prepared for summer use, we see fish kills in local streams that could have easily been prevented.

“Pool owners and professional pool cleaners must properly dispose of old water to neutralize wastewater that contains harmful chemicals, such as chlorine. Most importantly, they need to make sure the wastewater is going into the sanitary sewer, where it is allowed—not the storm sewer.”

When chlorinated water is drained from a swimming pool into a storm sewer, it quickly makes its way to a stream or other body of water, where aquatic life is damaged or killed. Discharging swimming pool water to Pennsylvania’s waters without a permit violates the Clean Streams Law, and property owners and pool companies who violate this law may be prosecuted and penalized for damages.

If the local municipality grants permission, all wastewater—including pool backwash water, neutralized pool cleaning wastewater and standing water—should be discharged to the local sanitary sewer system. If sanitary sewers cannot be accessed, the wastewater should be hauled off-site for disposal at an approved treatment facility.

Anyone with questions about handling pool wastewater may call the Water Management Program in DEP’s southwest regional office at (412) 442-4000.

For more information on how chemicals in stormwater can impact Pennsylvania’s streams and lakes, visit, keyword: Stormwater.

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