Many California cities are considering bans on filling and refilling pools after the governor mandated a statewide 25-percent reduction in urban water use.
While some examples such as Santa Barbara have rejected the proposition, others such as Beverly Hills plan to move forward.
New cities exploring such measures continue to be added to the list: San Jose, Malibu, Mesa, Newport Beach, Morgan Hill, Dixon, West Sacramento, El Dorado Hills, Ontario, Woodside, Monterey Park, Milpitas, Manteca, Claremont, Yorba Linda, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Cruz and others. The California Pool & Spa Association says it receives notices on an almost daily basis.
Perhaps the most publicized of these was Beverly Hills, which announced a City Council resolution to ban the draining and refilling of pools and enact a $1,000 fine for violators. It was put on hold while staff develop their process of managing water restrictions. But as the city figures these things out, the proposal to ban refills remains on the table. It may do the same for new-pool filling at some point.
This comes after the State Water Resources Control Board assigned each city a water-conservation goal. Steeper reductions are required of cities that use more water per capita. “[Beverly Hills is] being asked to cut by 36 percent, so we have to take fairly drastic measures to meet that requirement,” said Beverly Hills spokesperson Therese Kosterman.
Other cities have taken definitive measures. Claremont, a city about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, and Yorba Linda, near Anaheim, have each imposed their own bans on the filling of new or existing pools.
A few cities with the lowest water levels, such as Montecito, near Santa Barbara, have had restrictions in place for a while.
But the industry also saw a major victory. At the beginning of June, the California Water Service Company, the largest private investor-owned utility in California, changed course and opted against filling and refilling bans for residential pools, saying they recognize that pools do not require more water than landscaping. This affects districts throughout the state.
The Santa Barbara industry saw better luck when the city council there voted against a staff recommendation to ban permits for new pools, as well as filling and refilling existing installations.
A key to success in Santa Barbara seemed to be the appearance of four industry representatives who commented at the city council meeting. Additionally, CPSA furnished materials in advance of the meeting. Conversely, Claremont local professionals were unaware that local officials were considering restrictions. Once bans are put in place, they are difficult to reverse, said John Norwood, president/CEO of the California Pool & Spa Assocaition.
Participation by industry professionals has been vital to the effort so far. To avoid being caught offguard, CPSA recommends that professionals monitor all meeting agendas for their local city councils and water districts to gain a heads-up, then notify CPSA. The association provides speaker kits to help professionals address city governments and water districts, and it sometimes sends a CPSA representative to comment.
You can also follow these tips for working with local government.
The State Water Resources Control Board is contemplating further action. To address this, Keith Harbeck of Premier Pools in Rancho Cordova, Calif. spoke to the agency on behalf of the California Pool & Spa Association. Industry officials sought to convince the agency to include language stating that the regulations are not intended to block economic activity, said John Norwood, CPSA's president and chief lobbyist. This could help professionals face local water districts that are considering restrictions, he said.
CPSA has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 in new memberships, then another $100,000 to supplement the organization’s drought fund. It is about halfway there.