Certain conditions must be met when discharging water from a swimming pool or spa pool to stormwater, a river, water course or ground.

Discharging swimming pool and spa pool water

Certain conditions must be met when discharging water from a swimming pool or spa pool to stormwater, a river, water course or ground as discharged water may contain traces of chlorine or other chemicals at levels which could be harmful to the environment or toxic to fish.

Permission is not required to discharge domestic swimming pool or spa pool water into the wastewater (sewer) system in Christchurch.

Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan

The Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (external link)  includes the following rules for the discharge of swimming pool and spa pool water:

Swimming Pool or Spa Water

5.10 The discharge of swimming pool or spa pool water into water or onto or into land in circumstances where a contaminant may enter water is a permitted activity, provided the following conditions are met:

  1. The discharge of filter backwash water is only onto land, and the discharge does not enter any surface waterbody or wetland, including via a stormwater system; and
  2. For swimming pool or spa pool water discharges that do not contain filter backwash water, the discharge may be either onto land or into water, provided:
    (a) that for all discharges:
              (i) there are no copper chemicals or flocculants, including aluminium salts, in the discharge and the concentration of sodium chloride (common salt) does not exceed 3500 g/m³; and
              (ii) the swimming pool or spa pool has not been treated within the previous 14 days with a pool sanitizing agent containing chlorine, bromine, or BaquacilTM; and
              (iii) the discharge does not result in water or contaminants flowing onto another site; and
    (b) that for discharges to surface water:
              (i) the discharge is not within a Group or Community Drinking-water Protection Zone as set out in Schedule 1; and
              (ii) for discharges to a river, the rate of flow in the river, at the point of discharge, is at least five times the rate of discharge.

5.11 The discharge of swimming pool or spa pool water into water or onto or into land in circumstances where a contaminant may enter water that does not meet one or more of the conditions of Rule 5.10 is a restricted discretionary activity

The exercise of discretion is restricted to the following matter:

  1. The actual and potential environmental effects of not meeting the condition or conditions of Rule 5.10.


If the discharge of swimming pool or spa pool water is a restricted discretionary activity under Rule 5.11, then a consent from Environment Canterbury will need to be obtained. For further information, or if you suspect someone of emptying their swimming or spa pool into the stormwater system that does not meet with the conditions please contact Environment Canterbury (external link) (ECan).