With rising summer temperatures worldwide, many homeowners are adding swimming pools to help beat the heat. But swimming pools are often expensive additions to any home, leaving them out of reach for most buyers that aren’t eligible for swimming pool financing options.
Unfortunately, that leaves pools available only for the wealthy and upper classes. Those who can afford it typically want the most bang for their buck and will opt for the biggest, most luxurious pool possible. While it’s their prerogative to do as they please, it brings up an ugly topic that few want to consider: What are the environmental implications of these pools, and how are they affecting the global water crisis?
How do pools create water shortages?
While the answer may seem obvious, not many consider what specific impacts hoarding water solely for recreation can have.
Most pools are outdoors, meaning they have constantly evaporating water that needs to be replaced, which strains local water supplies for all residents. A study published in Nature Sustainability found that wealthy residents will use an average of 12 times more water than their lower-income counterparts.
This heavy use affects access to water for everyone, including:
- Fire departments
- Domestic violence and homeless shelters
Kim Kardashian, Kevin Hart, and Sylvester Stallone were some of the more prominent abusers of water waste, but they’re not alone. Recently, towns in California have begun water rationing, fining residents who go over their allotment…and it’s caused mainly by swimming pools. It seems like people who have a lot of money and don’t think about the consequences of their actions are slowly pushing us all closer to a water shortage.
So, where does that leave the average homeowner?
Unless you can afford a pool outright, you might be better off thinking twice before adding one to your property. Currently, it’s easy for the average homeowner to find home improvement loans that cover pool costs, and many don’t consider the long-term implications of owning a pool.
First are the environmental impacts. In addition to consuming massive amounts of water, the chemicals added to pool water to keep it clean can also negatively affect the soil and wildlife living around the home.
Then there are the financial implications. If your pool goes out of commission for any reason, you’ll be out of luck. Pool repairs can be expensive and often require professional help, meaning you could be stuck with a bill that’s way beyond your budget.
There’s also the increase to your homeowner’s insurance and the additional “soft” costs that many local governments require for pools, like adding a fence or installing a water filtration system.
But I still want a pool…
If you’re aware of the issues and still want a pool, there are a few options for finding a middle ground:
- Consider a plunge pool – If you want to just beat the heat, consider installing a plunge pool instead. These small pools are rectangles built vertically into the ground, allowing you to take a dip and cool off quickly.
- Get a lap pool – Lap pools are similar to plunge pools, except they’re built horizontally. Their small size allows them to be built nearly anywhere, even indoors, and their water use is far lower than a standard pool. They’re typically no more than 10′ long and use a jetstream to push water down the length of the pool, which allows swimmers to swim laps without moving.
- Join a community pool – While this doesn’t have the luxury of being right in your backyard, community pools are excellent ways to get your swimming in without directly contributing to water waste. Many gyms offer pools solely for exercise and offer water activity classes that are great for when the backstroke gets boring.
The bottom line
Swimming pools are a great way to stay cool in the summer, but their heavy water consumption has severe environmental and financial implications. If you’re thinking of adding one to your property, consider all the options available and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Name: Michael Bertini
Job Title: Consultant
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