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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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SMWD Water Ban Gets National Attention and Scrutiny

Santa Margarita Water District’s recent mandatory water conservation rules are attracting national attention.  In this Reuters wire service article, the SMWD’s requirements are described as follows:

The Santa Margarita District’s ban is among the strictest, prohibiting 165,000 residents from adding more than a foot of water to any swimming pool – even one that’s just been built.  In Santa Barbara, residents are prohibited from draining and refilling pools by more than a third.  John Norwood, president of the California Pool and Spa Association, said strict measures like the one in the Santa Margarita District go beyond the conservation efforts required by the state.    The restrictions “will have a devastating impact on local small and large business,” he wrote in a letter to the district.  ”I think it’s unwarranted and unreasonable,” said Cecil Fraser, who owns Swan Pools in Lake Forest and estimates his company has built over 500 pools within the Santa Margarita District over the last few years.  The rules “basically put pool builders out of business until the rains come,” he said.

Indeed, the swimming pool industry is lobbying the SMWD hard to relax or rescind the swimming pool rules.  Industry representatives have pointed out that swimming pools actually consume less water on an annual basis than an equal size patch of grass that requires weekly irrigation.  One hopes that SMWD will consider both the practical and economic consequences of rulemaking that goes far beyond what the Governor has mandated.

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