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California Pool Construction In Drought Could Hit Highest Level Since 2007

WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — More pools are being built in California now than have been in years despite the drought, and the industry is fighting to change the perception that pools are water wasters.

The grass has been ripped up and the digging has begun at Chad and Kristin Larsen's yard. They're getting a pool.

"Something we've wanted to do for a while," Chad said. "We have children and they enjoy it."

The industry took a huge hit during the recession, but business is back. Industry tracking firm Construction Monitor says there were 11,000 pools installed in California last year, the highest since 2007. The state is on track for 13,000 this year in a drought.

Poor contractor Keith Harbeck represents the California Pool and Spa Association. The group is working with water districts and cities that have banned filling and refilling pools, saying that in reality, pools save water.

"It certainly concerns people. and I think our business would be much better without the drought, but that's due to some misperceptions about pools and water use," he said. "Even in the first year, when we replace lawn, you experience water savings by putting in a swimming pool and in the subsequent years after that, the savings just add up."

The numbers vary depending on what you calculate. And Orange County Water Agency found it takes a couple of years to begin saving water by installing a pool, but Harbeck crunched the numbers for the Larsen's pool and says it will save more than 6,600 gallons in the first year and more than 17,000 gallons each year when compared to watering the lawn it's replacing.

"The water agencies have been very, very receptive and the ones that did have restrictions on pools have overturned those when they look at the facts," he said.

The pool industry says owners have to do their part too by using pool covers and maintaining low water levels to preserve every drop in the drought.

West Sacramento just began a ban on filling and refilling pools with its Stage 3 drought declaration, but the city says it will consider amending that measure if conservation efforts go well.

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