How Can I Keep E. Coli out of My Pool?

Ask the experts

What steps can be taken to reduce the chances of E. coli illness from swimming pools?

Doctor's response

The following are general steps that can greatly help to reduce the possibility of contracting a waterborne E. coli and other illnesses from a swimming pool:

  • Always keep your pool water in balance and maintain proper levels of disinfectant and pH.
  • The pool should not be used unless the filtration system is in good working order.
  • Children who are not toilet trained or anyone who is incontinent should not use the pool. If incontinent individuals are using the pool, they should wear tight-fitting rubber pants, special swimsuits or "swim diapers" to control fecal materials.
  • Never allow the changing of diapers at poolside or washing off of infants in the pool.
  • Pool users should be sure to use the toilet and wash their hands with soap and hot water BEFORE entering the pool.
  • Pool users should take a hot soapy shower before entering the pool.
  • Pool users who are suffering from a communicable disease that can be transmitted through water or who have had diarrhea in the previous 2 weeks should not use the pool.
  • Have feces removed from the pool and disposed of, then disinfect removal equipment.
  • Disinfect the pool by achieving a Concentration Time (CT) value of 9,600. The CT value comes from multiplying the concentration of chlorine (C) in parts per million by the time in minutes (T) to equal 9,600.
  • When possible, run the filtration system for 3 to 4 turnovers, which usually takes 24 hours. Then backwash the filter to a sanitary sewer.
  • For small pools and spas, the pool should be drained and disinfected. Refill the pool and restart the filtration system and balance the water.
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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018