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Authorities say water from a chlorinated pool washed into storm drains in Arlington County, Virginia, killing about 100 fish last week.

The dead fish were found in a creek located on Four Mile Run between South Walter Reed Drive and South Taylor Street, and according to a tweet posted by the Arlington Department of Environmental Services on Monday, investigators determined that “defective seasonal care of the pool involving chlorine and overflow” are to blame.

Department spokesman Peter Golkin said the investigation led them to a multi-family housing complex where large amounts of chlorine were added to the pool in the off-season. “Investigators say faulty seasonal pool care involving chlorine and overflow led to fish kills last week at Four Mile Run,” Golkin told news sources. Both the pool maintenance company and the property management company have been contacted by the county.

Golkin said an unpleasant “chemical odor” had been detected near a storm drain, suggesting it “would indicate someone probably dumped something bad in there.”

“The pool owners and service personnel have been very cooperative with the investigation and follow-up improvements so that such an incident does not happen again,” Golkin said.

He noted that recent rains had cleaned the creek, but warned that a lack of filters in the area’s storm drains meant the toxic substances could still be harmful to local wildlife.

“Watch out,” Golkin explained, “all sorts of daily hassles, from yard waste falling into sidewalk gutters to pet waste left unbagd, home car washing and maintenance of the pool, they can become a serious collective problem for the basin”.

“Pool and spa water can have devastating effects on the health of our streams if not disposed of properly,” the Department of Environmental Services says on its website. “Chlorine, bromine, algaecides, cleaning chemicals, and low oxygen levels can kill fish and other aquatic life in streams.”

Many cities and municipalities have regulations about pumping pool water into storm drains and sewer systems.

“Only clean, chemical-free, neutral pH, non-chlorinated fresh water can be slowly discharged into the storm drain system,” the department states. Otherwise, the water must go into the sewage system.

Golkin said the county’s regulations regarding pool drainage are “especially timely since this is the best time to close pools for the year.”

Additional Arlington County, VA Regulations:

Chapter 26-7 makes it illegal for any person to discharge directly or indirectly into the storm sewer system or state waters.


If pool or spa water is to be discharged onto the ground, the discharge must be:

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