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Effect of swimming pool on retaining wall

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My boss just stopped by and ask kind of an interesting question.


If a property has an existing retaining wall constructed for let’s say a lateral pressure of 40 psf/ft.  Then a new owner wants to install a swimming pool behind the wall.  Does the swimming pool adversely affect the wall?


My thoughts so far:


The weight of water is less per cu. ft that the soil, therefore probably not a problem unless there is a reduced restraint to overturning.


The lateral pressure is greater for the water, but the pool walls (I’m assuming that the walls are designed without help from counteracting soil pressure) will restrain that pressure.


I suppose that depending on the depth of the pool nearest the wall the wall could be checked for the lateral pressure of the soil left under the pool with a surcharge from the weight of the pool per sq. foot.


If the pool is held back from the wall a minimum distance equal to the height of the wall there should be no effect of any kind.


Any other thoughts or recommendations?


Can a person just do an “arm wave” and say no problem?






Joseph R. Grill, P.E. (Structural)

Shephard - Wesnitzer, Inc.

Civil Engineering and Surveying