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Water authority endorses limits to residential pool size

Updated July 21, 2022 - 4:56 pm

As businesses continue to fight proposed size limits on new pool construction, the walls seem to be closing in on them.

On Thursday, the Southern Nevada Water Authority board of directors voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution to support limiting new pool construction at single-family residences to 600 square feet, following the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s lead.

“We’re in a water crisis,” Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones said. “We don’t have the luxury of nonfunctional pools right now.”

The board of directors consists of three county commissioners — Jones, Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Jim Gibson — who already voted to approve a proposed service rule change for the Las Vegas Valley Water District that prohibits new pool construction exceeding 600 square feet for pools with permits obtained after Sept. 1. The board also consists of city council representatives from Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.

Unlike Tuesday’s decision from the water district, Thursday’s resolution does not have an enforcement component. Bronson Mack, water authority spokesperson, said that “the resolution is just reaffirming that the agencies making up the Southern Nevada Water Authority support this initiative moving forward.”

In the coming months, other member agencies of the SNWA will discuss code changes to reflect the 600 square foot limit, which is roughly the size of a three-car garage. Boulder City has plans this August to discuss changing its codes to reflect Thursday’s resolution. North Las Vegas and Henderson have plans to do so in September.

One major concern that stakeholder groups expressed about the resolution was the lack of engagement they felt throughout the decision-making process.

The SNWA held three meetings with stakeholders between March and June and issued letters to over 100 pool builders and developers in early June about the proposed limit, but many pool builders felt those actions were merely a formality.

“We reached out to SNWA staff and were granted a Zoom meeting,” said Terence Thornton, project manager at Ozzie Kraft Enterprises Inc. “During that meeting, we were told that a 600 square foot size limitation was pretty much a done deal.”

Developers were also concerned they wouldn’t have enough time to react to the Sept. 1 deadline by getting the necessary permits, since pool permits aren’t issued until after building permits.

“If we are not able to pull those pool permits before that September 1 deadline, then a lot of the work that we’ve done over the last year and a half…goes away,” said CJ Hoogland, principal at Hoogland Architecture. “That’s tens of thousands of dollars and many hundreds of hours of effort that we put into these projects.”

Karey Zimmerman, architectural manager at Aspire Design Studio, said he had been negotiating a $35 million deal with a client. Once they heard about the regulations, the deal was off. “I don’t disagree with the things that we need to do,” he said. “It’s just the way it was done. It feels like it was slid under the table.”

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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