Pool water invaded my vegetable garden!

ckcoyleApril 13, 2011

My neighbor drained their pool into their yard, and the water ended up in my vegetable garden. I have no idea what sort of chemicals may have been in the pool water.

Does anyone know what sort of potential problems this could cause? Could pool water kill my plants? Could it render the produce unsafe to eat? Is there something I should do to the soil in response?

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I would call a pool place and ask them. Maybe a place that maintains pools for people. Just to be safe! I would not think any thing in it would hurt you because people swim in the water. But if the water had a high level of chlorine in it it may hurt the plants. But when we back wash the filter into our yard the water don't kill or hurt the grass. But I would call just to be safe. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:38AM
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It really depends on what they treated their pool water with. Most pool chemicals are primarily some form or chlorine. There may be some other ingredients but they tend not to be too toxic (otherwise it wouldn't be safe for people to swim in). If the pool has sat all winter without being treated there may not be much if any chlorine left in the water they drained as it does evaporate.

It can kill plants if it's concentrated enough. It can also kill soil microbes and soil critters like worms. However, the good news is that chlorine is acutely toxic but it does not persist. It quickly evaporates or breaks down into other components. Which means it will kill on contact but after a day or two will no longer effect your plants. So basically at this point the damage is done but whatever survives the next few days should be fine. If you replant in a few days the chlorine will not harm the new plants.

The bad news is that some of the chemicals the chlorine breaks down into, like dioxins, are harmful. They will not kill plants but do accumulate in the plants and thus potentially be eaten by you. However, the tiny amounts that may result from this exposure are probably irrelevant in the large picture. If you water your garden from tap water you're adding small amounts of chlorine with each watering and over time that probably adds up more than anything in your neighbors pool.

Bromide is also a common pool chemical, it's quite toxic to algae and fungus, but it won't harm the multi-cell plants in your garden. In fact bromide is a commonly used agricultural fungicide that is injected into the soil to kill fungus, nematodes, and some insects. So maybe you just had a free pesticide application.

The other thing I can think of that could cause problems is that most people add some chemicals to keep the pH of their pool water low (makes chlorine more effective). I'm not sure what effect this might have on the soil or if it could lower soil pH. If there was enough applied I expect it could. Maybe test the pH of the soil in the areas that absorbed most of the water to be on the safe side. If it's low it shouldn't be too hard to add some soil amendments to bring it back up.

Overall, I wouldn't worry too much. I expect that your plants will be fine. If any die, replace them and don't worry about reusing the bed.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:46AM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

There is one other way to keep a pool sanitary that might hurt your plants, I have a friend who maintains his pool with salt. I don't know how common this is, he lives in Georgia and says it's the only thing that doesn't get diluted too quickly in the rain. I would imagine that salt wouldn't be too bad for you but in strong enough concentrations could kill your plants. Chlorine or Bromide are much more common though. I wonder if you could ask your neighbor what they use so that won't be a question anymore. I also have a neighbor that drains their swimming pool into my back yard, but it's too shady there for veggies so there's nothing edible for him to hurt.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 10:27AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Your neighbor isn't really a very nice neighbor to be doing that.
I have neighbor who used to try and empty his pool down the back hill and eventually into my yard. I most certainly put a stop to that. Good neighbors don't make their problem someone elses!!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 12:04AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Was the neighbor draining their pool, or flushing their filter? Flushing releases less water, and usually leaves a residue of DE + whatever was trapped in it.

If the pool was drained completely, then I would certainly ask the neighbor what chemicals were used in the pool. Unless the water appeared to be green or dirty, in which case most of the chemicals which might have damaged the garden had already dissipated. The one I would be most concerned about would be algicide.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:04AM
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Your neighbor isn't really a very nice neighbor to be doing that......
Or it was unintentional. Sometimes stuff happens. Not everything bad in this world happens because somebody somewhere is a jerk. I'm not saying that's the case here but without the facts, you just don't know. You sound like a peach to live next to.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 9:55AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It is probably a against your community codes for anything your neighbor does to have such an impact on your property. BE SURE that this doesn't happen again.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 11:02AM
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