*Red font in the legislation and regulation indicates changes from previous reporting

Changes Still Coming For California Water Landscape

As California exits a winter that brought much-needed rain to California and yet ultimately disappointed those who were hoping for an end to the drought, many are looking forward to the upcoming summer and years beyond. Although some of the reservoirs throughout the state have been refilled to their historical averages and there is a snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this amount of water is not nearly enough to entirely end the drought. Compounding matters is the fact that most of the precipitation fell in the northern half of the state, leaving Southern California still parched and wondering what the water future will hold.
In response to this, cities and water districts are once again revisiting their water conservation plans and how they will cope with a continuation of diminished supplies even after a year of stringent water restrictions. In some cases this means that cities will look for new and beneficial ways to address their water issues for a lasting impact, while in others the CPSA must once again respond to a misguided restriction on water use by pools and spas.
Last week, the CPSA received notice of a restriction that had been implemented in the Fair Oaks Water District in Northern California that did not allow for the use of water for pools and spas that were put in with “new construction”, and greatly discouraged the building of pools for existing homes. This language was part of the District’s Stage 4 Long Term Water Crisis restrictions, and seemed to directly contradict other language in the restrictions. Rules from earlier water conservation stages called for pools to be outfitted with recirculating pumps and be leak-proof – common-sense rules that allow for the conservation of even more water than pools already save. However, an additional rule implemented in Stage 4 prohibited the use of the District’s water for pools that were installed with newly-constructed buildings and discouraged the building of new pools altogether, a rule that provided no real water savings and unjustly punished the pool and spa industry.
When the CPSA was informed of these regulations we moved into action, calling the water district to gain further clarification on their poorly defined rules and express our opposition to them. With a meeting of the district’s Board of Directors upcoming, the CPSA sent in a letter and materials explaining the facts on water use by pools and spas, and urging the board to modify the guidelines to keep in the rules regarding recirculating pumps and remove the restrictions on new construction. These efforts were successful, and the Fair Oaks Water District’s Stage 4 rules – and all of their following stages – no longer include a ban on building new pools.
There are other changes coming for pools in the near future, with the City of Los Angeles voting soon to adapt their drought phases to better reflect the necessities of pool ownership in a drought. This week the City Council will be meeting to discuss changes to their drought phases on a wide range of topics. Included in these changes are adaptations to the requirements for pool owners, including recommending the use of pool covers during Phase 3, and mandating their use during Phase 4. This change will affect thousands of pool owners throughout Los Angeles, and has the potential to save a great deal of water if implemented correctly.
All pool service professionals in the Los Angeles area are advised to read the text of the proposed changes and familiarize themselves with the drought stages for the city. A great many pool owners do not have pool covers or do not use them properly, and in the instance of a Phase 4 water restriction they could face fines for not doing so. While this change to the city’s water policy is good for the industry as it shows a greater understanding of the realities of how pools and spas use water, it also required buy-in from the industry and from pool owners in order to make it effective to its fullest potential.
Even though the drought has lessened somewhat, the California Pool and Spa Association is still working hard to protect the industry from any new regulations that might negatively impact business during this busy and important time of the year. We have made great strides in the last two years and are moving into the future with new affiliations and programs, but our core goal is still to shield the pool and spa industry and serve our members. Please don’t hesitate to call the CPSA at 916.447.4113 if you have any questions regarding these new regulations or if you hear about any proposals that might damage your business.