California is experiencing possibly its worst drought in the history of the state. CA has had three winters of below-normal precipitation and last year was the driest since the state’s founding in 1850. Current snowpack measurement would indicate the state is 20 percent of its average water content. That combined with California’s constantly growing population makes the current water supply a major concern.
The situation has become dire enough that Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January and is asking residents to reduce their usage by 20 percent.
Pools and spas in the state often become a target in the name of water conservation, but industry professionals have pushed back out of concern for how these measures will affect local businesses without really helping alleviating the California drought.
It seems to be popular opinion amongst industry representatives, like John Norwood, President of the California Pool & Spa Association, that media outlets have pushed to advocate pool filling bans. They tell stories of pool owners refusing to fill their pools in order to aid the cause while others demolish pre-existing vessels.
This kind of media pressure sometimes informs laws, leading five Californian municipalities including Sacramento, Folsom, and Roseville to restrict water as well as withhold permits on new pool construction and existing pool renovations.
The CPSA has begun meeting with local officials to inform them about the true water usage of pools and hot tubs as well as the potential economic impact of restricting construction. The group has even hired a firm to help them with their campaign to reach both consumers and government officials.
The groups have seen some success in their endeavors. After some time spent lobbying, the San Juan Water District which serves the Sacramento area removed its bans on pool filling and draining. Other municipalities have been convinced to either eliminate or delay similar bans after being informed.
Part of the campaign process involves educating cities that once pools are filled and consistently covered, a pool uses less water than a similarly sized piece of lawn. Once they’ve begun to see the toll that the bans have taken on the industry and local businesses, officials have changed their tune.
CPSA Chairman Mike Geremia remarked, “When you really look at the big picture, we are smaller [water] users that have a big impact as far as jobs and the local economy.”
Industry professionals are encouraging their customers to be water conscious as much as they can, including putting an emphasis on maintaining pool filters and other equipment so the pool can remain efficient and waste as little water as possible.
Some groups have even flipped the script on conservation, using it as a selling point. Jerry Wallace, president of a Sacramento pool service firm called Swim Chem, tells customers “Congratulations, you’ve already begun conserving water by having a swimming pool. So we want to make them feel good.”
Wallace adds, “Pools don’t use nearly the water that people think they do. They don’t waste water.”