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County Commission votes unanimously in favor of pool size limits

Updated July 19, 2022 - 6:36 pm

The Clark County Commission voted 6-0 Tuesday in favor of a proposed change to the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s service rules that would prohibit new pool construction exceeding 600 square feet at single-family residences.

With the decision, the water district will be able to start enforcing the 600 square foot size limit on any new pools at single-family residences that obtain permits after Sept. 1.

“Nobody questions building codes to survive hurricanes in South Florida,” John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said in his presentation to the commission, which also serves as the water district’s board of directors. “Nobody questions building codes for earthquakes in San Francisco. Water scarcity is our natural disaster in Southern Nevada.”

Before the vote, Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson acknowledged that the ruling would affect business owners but said, “I’m going to vote to save as much [water] as we can right now.”

“We’ve had hard choices to make,” County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick added. “There’s not one industry that’s liked what we had to do.”

At the meeting, pool industry representatives presented an alternate proposal they said would save up to 30 percent more water than the 600 square foot limit.

Under this alternative, pool size would be allowed to increase with lot size up to a cap. Pool owners would have to pay a $40 to $50 water conservation fee per square foot to exceed the cap. Exemptions would be granted for pool owners that also installed an automatic water cover, which the pool industry claims can reduce evaporation by over 90 percent.

Entsminger, though, said there were flaws in the analysis of the data put forth by the pool industry. He said that when the water authority looked at the industry’s report, it found that the plan would save only 1.2 million gallons of water per year, while the 600 square foot limit is expected to save 3.2 million gallons.

Although Commissioner Ross Miller expressed interest in taking a closer look at the pool industry’s proposal and postponing the decision, he ultimately voted in favor the proposed restriction from the water district.

“We’re in a crisis, and we need to move quickly,” he said. The five other commissioners present voted with him; Commissioner Tick Segerblom was absent.

Kevin Kraft, president of Ozzie Kraft Enterprises Inc., said the decision will have a “huge impact” on his pool-building business. He said that the size limits would impact up to 95 percent of his client base.

“This is going to affect not just the pool-building industry — the homebuilding and the development industries will all be impacted,” he said.

Karey Zimmerman, architectural manager at Aspire Design Studio, said that he has at least 10 projects that might require redesigns following the decision and claimed that most architectural firms “knew nothing about the proposed regulation” until recently. With the home and pool-permitting process often taking multiple months, Zimmerman is worried that many existing projects won’t meet the Sep. 1 deadline.

“We have clients that have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in design work and now we’ve got to go back because in many instances these are designed to balance around pools.”

The SNWA is set to consider a similar resolution in favor of a 600 square foot limit for residential pool sizes at its meeting on Thursday. The cities of Henderson, North Las Vegas and Boulder City also have plans in the coming months to make code changes at the municipal level that reflect Tuesday’s decision.

Colton Poore is a 2022 Mass Media reporting fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Email him at cpoore@reviewjournal.com or follow him on Twitter @coltonlpoore.

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