extremely fouled pool next door

Algae problems in swimming pool water.
Green (cloudy) water or slimy pool walls.
Black algae. Mustard algae. Pink or white pool mold.

extremely fouled pool next door

Postby goodneighbor » Sun 27 Jun, 2010 23:47

My neighbor, a 65 year old widow, has an average sized kidney shaped swimming pool that has gone unmaintained for probably 10 years or so since her late husband pumped it mostly dry. It is now totally fouled with the leaves of many nearby trees, including branches, and other unknown objects and substances and smells so bad that I decided to be a good neighbor and attempt to drain and clean it for her (she's on social security only).
The pool was about half-full and the water was a brownish-green and smelled like rotten eggs when disturbed.
There were small frogs and tadpoles living in the pool.
I used a suspended bilge pump to pump the water down her sewer clean out for 3 days before the water was down to the level where the debris in the water started clogging the pump with a horrible black goo. At this point, I decided to try to remove some of the solids out of the water with a rake but as soon as anything was disturbed the smell was so awful that I could barely breathe.
At the suggestion of another neighbor, I dumped a gallon of household bleach into the pool to try to reduce the foul odor. Not a good idea in retrospect since now the smell is so much worse that I can't even approach the pool without feeling nauseated.
I would estimate there are at least 500 gallons of water left in the pool and I don't understand how only a gallon of bleach would create such a chemical reaction and smell so much worse.
Any ideas on solving this problem?

chem geek
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extremely fouled pool next door

Postby chem geek » Tue 29 Jun, 2010 12:57

Chlorine will combine with ammonia and organics to form chlormaines. Some of these are very foul smelling and irritating such as nitrogen trichloride so that is not a surprise and these tend to smell worse than the hydrogen sulfide rotten egg smell more typical of rotting debris. It is always a good idea to physically remove large volumes of organic material from a pool before trying to oxidize the rest with chlorine.

The worst chloramines will be volatile so will eventually dissipate if there is air circulation. You could add a chlorine neutralizer if you want to reverse the effect and remove the chloramines (turning them back into their original ammonia or organics). Don't overdo the chlorine neutralizer -- add enough to counteract the amount of chlorine you added. If you add too much, then later on it will react with any chlorine you add (after you've removed physical debris from the pool) thereby requiring you to add even more chlorine.

You'll need to physically remove the rest of the debris as much as you can.

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