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Demand for Residential Pools on the Rise in Spite of California Drought


In many states to include Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and California, as well as others, outdoor built-in swimming pools are the norm. Although California is going through a significant drought forcing water restrictions for most cities, the number of residential swimming pools being constructed is climbing.

Water Neutral Campaign

According to the pool industry, they see this as a water neutral option in a state that has been experiencing a four-year drought. Because many residents are struggling in reducing portable water consumption by as much as 25 percent, a campaign called “Let’s Pool Together” is being promoted by the California Pool and Spa Association.

This campaign is aggressively lobbying water districts to stop bans on pool filling and spas. Being marketed as a drought-friendly and landscaping option to the drought, the pool industry is citing a study in which a standard sized pool to include decking, uses roughly 33 percent less water after the initial fill than that of an irrigated lawn.

As imagined, the organization, industry, and residential pool owners are now in the crosshairs. As explained by John Norwood, president of the California Pool and Spa Association, people are not being advised to have a pool built in order to solve the drought but for those who do, they have a more water efficient solution within their own backyard that ultimately saves water.

To experts in water conservation, there are questions pertaining to how the pool industry is coming up with their numbers. According to a Metrostudy that tracks various types of housing information, at the very best the amount of water after an initial fill is no different between residential pools and lawns. This study reveals that in California alone, more than 1.18 million homes have swimming pools.

Facing Real Challenges

The association faces stiff challenges since in about 12 cities and water districts for areas of California affected most, bans on new pool construction, along with pool fills, draining, and refilling are being enforced. In San Jose, one of the wealthiest areas of Orange County trying to reduce water use by 30 percent, a ban was just approved this past April for filling and refilling pools. This also means no more than one foot of water can be used to top off existing pools.

Kerrie Romanow, director of the environmental services department in San Jose said that the state of California is in a very serious drought so along with bans on pools people are being asked not to water lawns. Unfortunately, with no rain and little water, people have to make sacrifices and be consicious of their water usage

Interestingly, even within banned cities, contractors are seeing a slight upturn in the amount of pool requests. While demand dropped significantly during the recession, pool contractors are once again staying busy. The owner of a pool company in Lake Forest stated that pool sales for his company were up and he feels numbers would be higher if people were not reading news about neighbors being harassed for having full pools but to what degree is unknown.

Even with the drought, many homeowners are choosing to have a pool as part of new home construction, accepting it as a beautiful addition to landscaping.

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