Drought Ordinance Targets Swimming Pools in OC | NBC Chicago
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Drought Effect: Orange County May Keep New Swimming Pools Empty

The ordinance, considered one of the strictest in the state, applies to the city of Rancho Santa Margarita and other communities served by that water district



    A new rule bans residents in Santa Margarita from filling new pools and refilling or topping off swimming pools if they drop a foot of water amid California's epic drought. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Santa Margarita Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (Published Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014)

    Some Orange County pool owners may not be able to fill their pools if a strict water-saving ordinance goes into effect in response to California's drought concerns.

    Officials estimate it takes 20,000 gallons of water to reach the top of most swimming pools. The ban would prevent new pools from being filled, refilled or even topped off if they drop a foot of water.

    "The major concern is that we don’t know if we’re in the third year of a drought, or we’re in the third year of a 10-year drought,” Santa Margarita Water District official Daniel Ferons said. “And so we do have to really plan ahead what is efficient use of water.”

    The ban on water for new pools applies to the city of Rancho Santa Margarita and other cities served by that water district. The new ordinance is considered one of the strictest in the state.

    Pool builder Cecil Fraser builds about 100 pools a year. In some ways, pools are no more of a water guzzler than a backyard sprinkler, he said, adding that if pools are covered most of the surface evaporation is eliminated.

    "I'm saying that the water loss is half what it was with grass and that half, we can solve that problem…by covering," Fraser said.

    The district has 56,000 water connections in Orange County, including community pools. District officials said that about four feet of water disappears annually from both pools and lawns.

    Some pool builders are concerned that the cost on conservation could run into the millions if jobs are lost and supplies aren’t needed.

    "I think it’s responsible for us to look at all these issues and figure out a smart solution," John Shippy of Geoscape Landscape said.

    Pool builders and homeowners who hope to change the ordinance are expected to be in attendance at a district meeting Friday morning.