DEP Reminds Citizens of Important Autumn Advisories

HARRISBURG – Autumn is less than a month away and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would like to remind citizens about important precautions to take as they are closing their pools and filling their home heating oil tanks. Pool wastewater, if not disposed of properly, can contaminate local waterways, while poorly maintained home heating oil tanks can leak.

When chlorinated water is drained from a swimming pool into a storm sewer, it can quickly make its way to a stream or other body of water, where aquatic life can be damaged or killed.

The discharge of swimming pool water to local waterways without a permit is a violation of the Clean Streams Law. Property owners and pool companies must obtain a permit from their local municipality before disposing of any pool wastewater. This includes pool backwash water, neutralized pool cleaning wastewater and standing water.

Pool wastewater should be discharged into the local sanitary sewer system, if possible. If sanitary sewers are not available, the wastewater should be hauled off-site for disposal at an approved treatment facility or otherwise discharged according to the department’s Swimming Pool Wastewater Discharge Guidelines.

Owners of home heating oil tanks should consider inspecting indoor and outdoor home heating oil tanks for potential problems prior to refilling them. Preventing leaks will save owners energy and money, in addition to protecting owners’ health.

Leaking heating oil can cause indoor air problems and potentially contaminate groundwater and private drinking water wells. A spill cleanup can cost up to $50,000 and may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Residents who think their oil tank may have a problem should immediately contact their oil company for help.

A quarter of all Pennsylvania homes use heating oil to stay warm in the winter.

DEP encourages homeowners to consider these tips:
• For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
• Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
• Check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports;
• Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
• Never tip over or empty a tank onto the ground;
• Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system; and
• Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal a problem.

When fuel is delivered, make certain that the home address is clearly visible and the tank’s fill line clearly marked. If a resident cannot be home when fuel oil is delivered, mark the fill pipe with a red flag or marker and inform the oil company of the location. Ensure that any disconnected fill pipes that remain above the ground are permanently sealed and cannot be opened.

For more information, or to view the Swimming Pool Wastewater Guidelines, visit www.dep.state.pa.us  keyword: pool wastewater.

For more information about filling a home heating oil tank, visit www.dep.state.pa.us  keyword: Storage Tanks, or call DEP’s Division of Storage Tanks at 717-772-5599.

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