Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Swimming and excercise pools

Pool maintenance for swimming pools and exercise pools

This guidance is relevant to you if you have a swimming pool, or an exercise pool for animals such as horses.

What you must do

Get planning permission

If you want to build a pool, you must get planning permission and comply with building regulations. Contact your local council for more information.

Contact your local council

For environmental guidance on issues such as excavation, read our guidance for construction and building trades.

Inform your water company or authority

If you plan to install a pool with a capacity greater than 10,000 litres, which is designed to be refilled automatically with mains water, you must inform your water and sewerage company or authority before you begin work on it. You should also check whether your water and sewage company or authority has any specific requirements, such as using a water meter or supplying the pool from a holding tank.

You must ensure that the plumbing system for your pool is installed and maintained to national requirements. See the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) guides on the Water Supply Regulations and Water Byelaws for more information.

WRAS: Water Supply Regulations and Water Byelaws - What are they and how do they affect you? (Adobe PDF - 247KB)

WRAS: Water Supply Regulations and Water Byelaws - Information on notification of proposed plumbing work (Adobe PDF - 251KB)

Get authorisation to dispose of swimming pool water

If you want to empty your pool, you should check the best way to dispose of water with your environmental regulator or your water and sewerage company or authority. You will need authorisation to dispose of pool water into sewers, surface waters or ground waters. Usually you will have to store the water in a vented storage pool to allow chlorine to disperse before disposal. This can take at least 5 days, depending on the volume of water.

Contact your environmental regulator

You should dispose of backwash water from the pool filter to a public foul sewer or public combined sewer. Check with your water and sewerage company or authority to see if you need authorisation.

Water UK: Contact your water company

Scotland on Tap: Water and sewerage providers in Scotland

If a sewer is not available, you may be able to discharge waste backwash water to a soakaway, but you must make sure that there is no run-off to drains or surface waters. Septic tanks and small package sewage treatment plants are not suitable to treat pool filter backwash as the volume of water and chemicals damage the treatment process.

You may need authorisation to discharge waste backwash water. If you are unsure about your discharges, contact your environmental regulator for more information.

If you cannot discharge waste backwash water to a sewer or a soakaway, you may need to get it removed from your site for disposal elsewhere. Check that anyone who takes your waste away from your site is a registered waste carrier.

You must dispose of hazardous substances such as chlorine as hazardous/special waste. If you are not sure whether the substances you use are hazardous, check with your supplier or your environmental regulator.

Who is allowed to deal with your waste?

Hazardous/special waste

Contact your environmental regulator

You must store all liquid wastes securely, so they cannot pollute drains, surface waters or ground waters, or surrounding land. This should be within a secondary containment system such as:

  • an impermeable bunded area
  • a bunded drum store.

Good practice

Make sure that you use and store pool chemicals carefully to avoid causing pollution.

Chemical storage

Ensure that you have suitable spill equipment for the chemicals you store. Keep spill kits close to where you might need them, and ensure that your staff know where they are and how to use them.

Further information for pools

Discharges to water and sewer

Preventing water pollution

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