Several times per year we get the following call—“Someone has pooped in the pool—do we have to drain all of the water out of the pool?” With no disrespect to the movie Caddyshack, the pool does not have to be drained.
According to the Pool & Spa Operator Handbook, a publication of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, following are the fecal incident response recommendations:
- For any type of accidental fecal release (AFR), direct all users to leave the pool. If the filtration system services more than one body of water, all of the affected areas must be closed. The pool must remain closed until all of the following procedures have been completed.
- For any type of AFR, manually remove as much of the material as possible. If the AFR is formed, remove it from the pool without breaking it apart. It is less likely that recreational water illnesses will spread if this action is taken promptly. Use a scoop or net, and dispose of the material using the sanitary facilities. Vacuuming is not recommended, however if performed, vacuum the immediate area to waste.
- Clean and disinfect the scoop, net, and vacuum hose, and place them in the pool during the following disinfection procedures. Pools that contain chlorine stabilizers such as cyanuric acid, dichlor, and trichlor may require higher free chlorine levels.
- Raise the free available chlorine level to 2ppm. Maintain the pH of 7.5 or less and a temperature of 77 degrees or higher.
- Maintain the chlorine concentration for at least 25 minutes before opening the pool. Local and state codes may vary on this requirement and should be consulted.
- Ensure the filtration system is operating while the pool reaches and maintains the proper free chlorine concentration during the disinfection process.
- Raise the free available chlorine level to 20ppm. Maintain the pH of 7.5 or less and a temperature of 77 degrees or higher. Maintain the pH and chlorine level for 12.75 hours.
- The filtration system should be operating the entire disinfection time.
- Backwash the filter after the full disinfection time. The filter effluent should be directed to waste, and not back to the pool.
- Follow any state or local regulations that may apply.
- Return the chlorine level to normal levels, as required by state and local regulations.
- Open the pool to normal user activities.