Notes from Windward: #70


Pool Cleaning

putting away the summer water
storage "tanks"

Eliot (with help from MaryLou):

     Pools don't like winter.

     As Lindsay wrote up back in July, pools were installed at Windward in an effort to make winter water more available for summer gardening. We purchased two used inflatable-ring pools via Craigslist, one that is 10-ft in diameter (holds 2000 gallons) and one that is 15-ft in diameter (holds 3000 gallons), and a larger pool with a rigid frame (14-ft in diameter holding 3800 gallons).

expert pool cleaners MaryLou, Ruben and Eliot empty the remaining dirty water out of the pool

     In March and April, Mary Lou and a crew of folks dedicated to innovative irrigation and water storage levelled the ground where the pools were to be placed and put fencing around the pools to protect them from cows. During this period of the spring we have lots of water, so we filled the inflatable-ring pools and used them to hold water for use in the summer.

      The larger, rigid-frame pool is used to catch overflow from the main tank to make it useable for garden irrigation. For more information on how the inflatable pools are integrated with the duckponics system to provide nutrient-enriched (that is, primarily duck poop-enriched) water to the plants, see Lindsay's July writeup.

     Since July, the pools have been functioning well and as the mornings and winds are starting to feel notably cooler, we had to think about winterizing the pools. Since the pools will not withstand freezing, they had to each be cleaned and dried thoroughly to be stored through the winter until we are ready to use them again in March.

poolboy Ethan holds up the pool while MaryLou sprays it clean

     Getting those large pools cleaned was a bit of a process and MaryLou helped work out a way to do it efficiently to get all the water out and the pool as clean as possible. Draining the pool involved letting out as much water as possible through the pool's valve and then using a hose to siphon out the rest of the water. With a team of four, we had two people holding up the pool while one sprayed a quarter of the pool and then we used brooms and rags to scrub away the algae that had built up.

      After cleaning the inside and making sure all the water was poured out, we let it dry, checking and repositioning it often. Once the inside is dry, we folded it in half and cleaned the back; after that half was dry, we folded it in half again, cleaned that half and let it dry...and continued folding, cleaning, and drying until the whole pool is clean, inside and out.

Ethan, Ruben, and MaryLou cleaning the pool

     In discussing the pools with MaryLou, who had taken a large part in setting up and maintaining the pool system this year, she brought up several disadvantages to the inflatable-ring pool design--they were high-maintenance and energy-intensive (requiring a fair amount of setup and cleanup as well as extensive patching for the used inflatable pools, as well as a lot of work to get the hoses hooked up between the pools and the duckponics system).

Eliot and MaryLou checking out the clean pool

     The upper (rigid-structure) pool that caught overflow from our main water tank turned out to be extremely useful, but the lower (inflatable) pools were less clearly useful and the work put in to them outweighed the benefits offered in water storage...this year.

     From year to year, with varying rainfall at the end of the dry season, the advantages of storing water in pools varies; so while this past year it seemed to not quite be worth it, it is hard to say whether it would be more important in the future to store water for irrigation.

and the final step before the winter: the rigid-frame pool...our next challenge

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70