How to drain or empty your pool or hot tub to meet City rules and to prevent pollution

Information
Heated, chlorinated or salt-treated waters from pools and hot tubs, and cleaning wash water are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. Learn how to prevent pool waters from entering the stormwater system such as through a storm drain, from where it could flow directly to a river or stream.

How to Drain Your Pool

Drain to Sanitary Sewer or Infiltrate On-site

City code prohibits the discharge of heated, chlorinated, or salt-treated waters, such as from a pool or hot tub, to a storm drain or into the city's stormwater system. When draining your pool or hot tub, following these procedures:

  • Drain the water to the sanitary sewer or allow it to infiltrate into the ground, if available. Discharges from home pools to the sanitary sewer do not require prior written authorization from Environmental Services. However, pool draining from facilities with larger pools like schools, universities, parks and recreation centers, or clubs/fitness centers must have a Batch Discharge Authorization to discharge to the sanitary sewer.
  • Never allow water to flow onto the sidewalk, street, or right-of-way. This is prohibited by Portland City Code 17.32.
  • Never allow water to flow onto neighboring properties.

When Those Are Not an Option

De-chlorinated and cooled pool water may be allowed to flow to the stormwater sewer system — only if no other option is available. You must follow these requirements:

  • Cool water for at least 12 hours prior to discharge or to a temperature similar to the receiving body of water.
  • Dechlorinate prior to discharge. Allow water to sit out for at least two weeks. Water must dechlorinate to 0.1 mg/l total residual chlorine or less. Use a test kit to measure chlorine prior to discharge.
  • Ensure the discharge water has a neutral pH.
  • Discharge at a controlled rate of less than 50 gallons per minute.
  • Failure to implement these requirements may result in fines or enforcement.

Never Discharge Water with Pollutants

If the water you would like to discharge meets any of the criteria below, you are prohibited from discharging it to the stormwater system.

  • Contains other pollutants, such as bromine and copper.
  • A salt-sanitized or salt-treated pool.
  • Water from backflushing pool filters or pool cleaning wastewater.

The City's Role

The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to set rules and regulations to protect the city's sewer and stormwater systems and its watersheds. Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to meet these requirements and to protect our rivers and streams. Many storm drains in Portland flow directly to our rivers and stream without treatment, and the pollutants in pool water can hurt water quality and harm fish and other aquatic life.

Rules and Regulations

Portland City Code 17.39 prohibits nearly all discharges (like pool water) to the stormwater system. Only rain should go down a storm drain. The discharge of prohibited materials may result in investigations, issuance of penalties, and required corrective actions.
 
Portland City Code 17.32 prohibits directing water from any source to run onto a sidewalk, street, easement, or right-of-way without first obtaining authorization or approval.

Contact Environmental Services for assistance.