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Diatomaceous Earth Pool Filters: Don't wash them in the street

discharge in street

Since the beginning of summer, we've seen more discharges of diatomaceous earth in the street. Commonly known as D.E., diatomaceous earth for pools is derived from tiny fossilized exoskeletons of algae-like water plants called diatoms. DE powder provides better filtration results for pools compared to sand filters and cartridge filter systems, which is why folks use them.

However, did you know that diatomaceous earth cannot be discharged onto the street and into the storm drain system? When diatomaceous earth is washed into the street, not only does it leave a mess in street gutters, the material chokes out aquatic life in creeks downstream when washed into street catch basins. That's the reason why you should:

  1. Never clean a filter in the street or near a storm drain.
  2. Rinse cartridge filters onto a dirt area and work filter residue into soil.
  3. Backwash diatomaceous earth filters onto dirt. Dispose of spent diatomaceous earth in the garbage. Diatomaceous earth cannot be discharged to surface waters, storm drainage systems, septic systems or on the ground.
  4. If there is not a suitable dirt area, discharge filter material back into the sanitary sewer system using a clean out.

Also, remember your backyard drain inlets typically drain to the street!

More information about storm water program tips and practices is available at https://cityofmissionviejo.org/green.


Submitted by Walt Chandler on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 6:47 pm


I switched to powdered cellulose, and it is lighter, disappears into the soil and is less of an inhalation concern. The water is just as clear as when I usedan the DE product. It works with the same filter grids.

Submitted by Asia Ray on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 5:24 am


Woah, I never knew something like this happened whenever someone cleaned a drain!! I hope my grandmother knows this while she cleans her pool..

Submitted by Jeanne Reynolds on Wed, 06/08/2022 - 4:41 pm


The HOA center cleans the pool filters washing the diatomaceous earth down a drain pipe near the pool.

If there is a better way to dispose of the used DE?

Submitted by City Staff on Fri, 06/10/2022 - 5:24 pm


Thank you for your comment on the City’s News page. The tips the City provides to residents and HOAs about cleaning pool filters are as follows:

• Rinse pool filters and diatomaceous earth filters in landscaped areas where water and debris can readily soak into the soil.
• When draining pools or rinsing filters to a landscaped area, cover any landscape drains to prevent water from reaching the storm drain system.
• Used diatomaceous earth should be tossed in with solid garbage. It should never be discharged into storm drains or any place where it may wash into streams, rivers, or the ocean.

Washing the diatomaceous earth down a drain pipe is a good method as long as that drain pipe is connected to the sewer system and not the storm drain system. If it is connected to the storm drain system then the person may be subject to water quality violation citations.

Another option is to lay down a tarp, cover the perimeter of the tarp with sand bags to create an enclosed area where water cannot escape. Wash all the filters in that designated area. Shop-vac the water out and dispose of it down a sewer drain. Then roll up the tarp with the rest of the diatomaceous earth left behind and dispose of it in the trash.

Submitted by tavion elam on Mon, 10/17/2022 - 9:37 am


I believe people should stop letting their pool water get all over the place when they are cleaning it because it could go into the sewers and make its wat to the ocean and it could kill all of the ocean animals or we could get real sick and loose our life eating seafood with chemicals in it.

Submitted by Miguel Tirado on Mon, 10/24/2022 - 9:45 am


I feel that the community should come together and clean out roads and keep them clean the imformation was very intresting though

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