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Pool builders seek to water down conservation rules
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The ink was all but dry on an ordinance that would have made some of the water conservation efforts that the City of Lathrop took to weather the worst drought in California history permanent.
And then the California Pool and Spa Association showed up.
What was supposed to be a simple second reading and acceptance of an ordinance already approved by the council was tabled on Monday after John Norwood – the Executive Director of the Sacramento-based organization that lobbies on behalf of pool builders throughout California – raised an issue with a change to the city’s existing water management stage system that would prohibit the filling of swimming pools or spas once drought conditions reached a certain level.
According to Norwood, by incorporating the new language in the city’s “stage three” level – which would mandate a 30 percent water reduction for the entire city – the city is overlooking already approved uses for water that would create more of an impact than keeping swimming pools and spas and usable levels.
In addition, Norwood said, pools that would fall below a certain level could become stagnant and create a public health risk – turning backyard getaways into breeding grounds for mosquitoes that could potentially carry the West Nile Virus – and exposed plaster could crack costing homeowners thousands of dollars to repair.
His concerns gained traction with Councilwoman Martha Salcedo who asked that the city take the time to meet with both Norwood and a representative from a major Northern California pool builder to see what can be done to satisfy both parties.
But Tim McCoy, Lathrop’s Public Works Director, pointed out for Salcedo the dire circumstances in which such a stage escalation was to occur.
“We just had one of the worst droughts in California’s history and we didn’t reach that level,” McCoy said. “If we’re getting to the point where we reach stage three and where we need to cut 30 percent of our water use, I’m more concerned with getting potable water out of your tap and not into your swimming pool, ma’am.”
While the ordinance would have been best utilized if it were in place in July of 2016, staff determined that there was no dire need to approve the measure on Monday and will meet with both Norwood and the pool builder to see what, if anything, can be amended and brought back to the council for its consideration.
According to a Senior Civil Engineer who worked with a consultant to develop the city’s strategy, the 30 percent reduction level would come from a myriad of sources working in tandem with other lower stages to reach that mark. Previously it wasn’t until the city reached a mandatory 50 percent reduction in its water use – residents only met the State-mandated 20 percent reduction during the drought in certain months – that the limitation on filling pools and spas would have gone into effect.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.