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California Pool Industry Looking at Another Drought

Pool industry braces as California begins instituting new Water Regulations

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California Drought May Impact The Pool Industry

Folks in the pool industry still remember the bleak days of 2015 when there were mandatory water restrictions in place across California. Six years ago the governor hoped to reduce water consumption by 25% by targeting the pool industry. Leaders were able to unify and fight back to change the misconception that pools are water wasters.

The perception amid many homeowners that were facing all these crazy new water restrictions at the time was that inground swimming pools were wasteful uses of water. An alarming number of homeowners had taken to filling in their swimming pools as a result and new pool construction had slowed to a crawl in California.

Although swimming pool construction has seen a tremendous resurgence with the Covid-19 pandemic, analysts fear that the bubble for pool construction is about to pop. Rising costs for construction materials, shortages of labor and ongoing price increases from the leading pool manufacturers have cut into the gains the swimming pool industry has made with consumers over the last 2 years. Issues like the ongoing drought in California aren’t helping matters.

An extreme drought is drying up California lakes and reservoirs and causing concern for experts in the pool industry.
An extreme drought is drying up California lakes and reservoirs and causing concern for experts in the pool industry.

California’s Drought & The Pool Industry

It’s not on the national radar yet, but California is facing a serious drought and there are growing concerns that it could adversely impact the pool industry yet again. Although Californians are not yet facing the mandatory restrictions they were in 2015, residents now find themselves confronted with a patchwork of new regulations.

Towns reliant on the hard-hit Russian River have imposed strict mandates in preparation for an impending crisis which they feel is coming. There is growing concern that many coastal areas may have to truck in water simply to get through the year. Simultaneously, most cities in California are preparing to weather the summer with only voluntary cuts and limited limitations, many of which are carryovers from prior droughts.

“We have a patchwork in part because (water) is managed locally,” said Felicia Marcus, who was responsible for leading the state of California’s response to the 2012-2016 drought under former Gov. Jerry Brown.

The situation is dire in some places, and those places are making calls for higher levels of conservation,” Marcus said. “In other places, they may be prepared, or they may be dreaming.

Tracy, CA has traditionally been a good barometer on whether or not a drought may impact the pool industry. Residents in Tracy, CA were just told they will only be allowed to water their lawns on select days after the city council voted unanimously to impose more restrictions. There are 5 stages of water restrictions they impose, right now they are in the 3rd. The 4th level has restrictions on washing cars, while the 5th level restricts residents from refilling their pools without a separation tank and recovery system.

Record breaking heat and an extreme drought has many analysts in the pool industry concerned of a repeat of 2015.
Record breaking heat and an extreme drought has many analysts in the pool industry concerned of a repeat of 2015.

How bad is the drought right now in California?

This year, California regulators announced that they would deliver only 5% of the State Water Project’s supplies because of extreme drought conditions.  This year’s drought is the most dire situation Mendocino County has faced in decades. At the end of May, Lake Mendocino hit a record low of just 40% capacity. Earlier this month, the county faced projections that the reservoir could be dry by the end of the year.

“The aggressiveness and the severity of this drought, the way the drought is increasing is much greater than the previous drought,” Aaron Baker, chief operating officer at Valley Water, said. “Conditions will be far worse in 2022 if drought conditions continue and no action is taken.” 

Experts are concerned the drought in California could have negative implications for the pool industry.
Experts are concerned the drought in California could have negative implications for the pool industry.

The Real World Concerns of Extreme Drought

This extreme drought in California has been quickly drying up reservoirs and putting a tremendous strain on electrical grids. This mega drought has depleted the states 1,500 reservoirs statewide by over 50%. This Friday, over 85% of the state was classified as officially being in an extreme drought according to National Integrated Drought Information System. The problem is so severe that a recent warning said that the drought may kill nearly all juvenile salmon in the Sacramento river this year. Given the short 3 year life cycle of salmon, a one year wipe out could greatly increase the chances of extinction for the species.

While Governor Newsome has not yet instituted the 25% mandatory restrictions of 2015, in executive order signed on Thursday he encouraged all Californians to reduce water use by 15% as 50 of the state’s 58 counties are now a drought-related state of emergency.

California Drought Map courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor

The PHTA Leads The Charge in Fighting Fake Drought News

One of the biggest challenges the pool industry faced back in 2015 was getting solidarity to fight negative publicity and connotations that inground pools were the equivalent of wasting water. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance in coordination with the California Pool & Spa Association have gone to great measures in recent years releasing information that specifically addresses the myths and misinformation associated with inground pool water usage.

  • 85% of California’s water supplies are dedicated to agricultural use, 10% is dedicated to personal usage, and the remaining 5% for industrial and commercial purposes. If agricultural conservation measures were instituted to cut use by 5%, the amount available for domestic & commercial usage would increase by 1/3.
  • In a community where 800 new pools are built annually at an average cost of $20,000 each, about 33 percent of that $16 million (which comes to more than $5 million) represents wages of approximately 450 workers that contribute to the local economy.

Restricting Water Usage for Pools Is Not a Logical Answer To a Drought

In a state hard hit by Covid-19 restrictions and eager to get back to work, now is conceivably the worst possible time for California to begin instituting water restrictions on swimming pools. The pool industry accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state of California. During the recent pandemic the industry went to great lengths to remain operational in order to support the communities which it serves. It’s important to remember that in times of drought, that pools aren’t just a luxury, they are the lifeblood for many California residents and business owners.

The real answer to California’s drought is not by putting regulations on the pool industry but addressing some of these issues.

Let’s Look At The Numbers

California may be unprepared for a drought but it’s important to realize that instituting water conversation can hurt the pool industry and impact public perception like it did 6 years ago.

The amount of revenue an inground pool generates in terms of water usage versus what agricultural usage can produce for the same amount of water simply isn’t an apples to apples discussion and never will be unless California farmers start growing diamonds.

A study conducted by the City of Sacramento concluded that lawn irrigation use equals 49 inches per year and that swimming pool requirements are 39.6 inches per year, less walkway and decking areas equal to the actual pool area, which reduces total pool water use to 20 inches per year.

Obviously, regulating or prohibiting pool construction or the filling of swimming pools would have large-scale ramifications on the pool industry. Instituting restrictions will undoubtedly effect the taxes paid by these businesses and wage earners. Water restrictions impacting pools would also impact the amount of money consumers spend in the local economy. In this humble Editors opinion, there are more obvious places to conserve water than looking at soft targets like the pool industry which actually stimulate the economy and employ a good percentage of Californians.

4.7/5 - (12 votes)

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email [email protected] or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to [email protected]

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The Indoor Ocean Where The US Navy Tests Its Ships

Take an insiders tour of the Indoor Ocean where the US Navy tests its ships.

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One of the world’s largest wave pools sits at the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center. They use the facility to create waves of specific sizes, frequencies, and amplitudes. Since 1962, the US Navy has tested all of its ships, platforms, and moored systems in realistic sea conditions at the Indoor Ocean in NSWC Carderock.

Approximately 240′ x 360′, the enormous basin is 20 feet deep and holds 12 million gallons of water. In addition, it also once held the record for having the world’s largest dome.

Indoor Ocean Used To Predict Ship Performance

The Navy uses the facility to predict how their full-scale ships will perform in the open ocean by testing their stability and control in a vessel that simulates real-world wave conditions. The maneuvering and seakeeping basin, also nicknamed (MASK) is where the US Navy tests its fleet. Built in 1962, and renovated in 2013.

The Indoor Ocean received an upgrade from 21 slow and inefficient pneumatic domes to 216 paddles. Consequently, today, operators have better and more independent control. With 99 percent precision, the results produced at the renovated facility provide far more realistic conditions than its predecessor.

NSWC Carderock is one of eight Naval Sea Systems Command Surface Warfare Centers. Credit: DOD

Engineers at the facility evaluate operability, ship motions, and efficiency. MASK researchers can then use this information to fine-tune a new vessel’s design to maximize its chances of achieving the desired level of performance. Testing also aids in establishing operational guidelines for the crew and ensuring the correct configuration of the ship.

The US Navy uses the Indoor Ocean facility at NSWC Carderock to conduct tests for the design of its fleet. Credit: DOD

“There are many different kinds of waves,” Calvin Krishen, NSWC engineer, said in a YouTube video uploaded by the Department of Defense. “Waves are different in different parts of the world and they are different depending if you are close to shore, or away from shore or whether you’re in a storm or not. We actually have the capability of programming all those different types of waves to test.”

Conducting Testing & Analysis To Create Better Ships

Engineers perform rigorous tests and manufacture vessels to a smaller scale in order to see how they will perform out on the open ocean. Based on the analysis conducted at NSWC Carderock, ship designers can make necessary adjustments to improve performance in real-world conditions.

Ship designers can make any necessary adjustments based off analysis conducted during wave simulations. Credit: DOD

How This Enormous Wave Pool Works

The machine that operates the wave pool consists of a paddle system that lines two walls of the pool. The system consists of 216 individual wavemakers capable of producing waves of varying sizes from -45 degrees to 135 degrees.

The paddle system is programmed for choreographed movement. It creates reproducible, perfect-sized, perfect-frequency waves. Force transducers create air bellows that go across the pool at specific angular motions. The motion is akin to fingers moving across the keys of a piano.

A series of choreographed bellows control the paddle system that creates the waves. Credit: Vertasium

There are wave pools located all over the world but what makes the Indoor Ocean unique is its ability to create reproducible waves of specific amplitude and frequency. Wave conditions vary in different parts of the world. MASK, however, is capable of mimicking the same conditions that exist during various times of the year in any location across the globe.

Paddles are programmed to create repeatable waves of specific frequency. Credit: Veritasium

Why The Need To Upgrade?

The old pneumatic-powered wave system used antiquated technology. The Navy requires a facility capable of performing the rigorous testing demanded by engineers. In the past, the testing team sometimes had to relocate their models to the actual ocean and study the weather in order to recreate the perfect wave conditions.

Today, designers create models as large as 30 feet in length. Operators submerge them in MASK’s turbulent waters to simulate their future working conditions.

Data analysts conduct tests to see how ships will perform at sea. Image Credit: Licet Studios

Precise computer controls may be the most useful part of the new high-tech system. Testers can design a certain marine environment and tell the computer how to achieve it. Operators program a 3D model of the exact waveform they want to simulate.

“We can nail, at scale, the conditions all over the world,” said Jon Etxegoien, Head of Naval Architecture & Engineering, “So it’s not just that we can do some kind of rogue sea states, we can actually do the kind of seas they can expect in the North Atlantic, the South Pacific, littoral areas, that sort of thing. So that’s what gives us a real leg up. It’s not just some generic sea condition, but the specifics of where they’re going to be operating.”

Take a Tour Inside Where The US Navy Tests Its Ships

Does it shock and awe us that the United States military owns the best wave pool in the world? Not really. However, it does fill us with enormous pride to know that dedicated professionals perform the highest level of testing and analysis for the vessels that comprise our naval fleet.

Featured Photo Credit: Department of Defense

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China Claims Title For World’s Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool

New business tower in China has a pool with breathtaking views from the 71st floor.

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China Claims The Title For World's Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool

The title of the World’s Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool now goes to China. Construction of a new 1,322-foot-tall tower by Chicago-based architects Goettsch Partners is now complete in Nanning, China. The tower’s crowning feature is an outdoor swimming pool that, according to the architects, is the highest in the world.

Title for Highest Outdoor Pool Goes To China

The hotel’s pool on the 71st-floor terrace is 1,060 feet above the ground, making it the highest in the world. Previously, the 57th-floor infinity pool at Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands held the title.

Guangxi China Resources Tower claims the title for the world's highest outdoor swimming pool.
Guangxi China Resources Tower claims the title for the world’s highest outdoor swimming pool.

The Guangxi China Resources Tower, at over 2.93 million square feet, is the 18th tallest building in China and the 37th tallest building in the world. It is a mixed-use design that includes a hotel, office spaces, and retail.

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More than 60% of the 86-story structure’s lettable space, or 272,000 square meters, will be occupied by offices. Approximately 6,000 square meters of retail space and a Shangri-La Nanning hotel with 336 rooms are also planned.

“The building is a symbol of rising prosperity for the city,” notes James Zheng, AIA, LEED AP, CEO and president of GP. “It further sets a world-class standard for quality that is meant to endure.”

The tower, developed by Shenzhen-based China Resources Land, will serve as the focal point of a brand-new 90-hectare urban quarter in Nanning. The podium and basement of the building are linked to the structures around it.

The hotel's infinity pool sits on the 71st floor of the massive sky scraper.
The hotel’s pool sits on the 71st floor of the massive skyscraper in Nanning, China.

Beginning in 2014, the building process will be completed by the end of 2020 (November). The company claims that the building is completely occupied and functional now that the interior fit-out is complete.

One of a Kind Panoramic Views

The hotel emerges atop the office volume, drastically altering the building’s profile. The lower volume is capped by a monumental terrace at Level 71, which serves as a one-of-a-kind outdoor sky space where guests can swim in the hotel’s pool. From sunrise to sunset, the sweeping 180-degree panorama offers unparalleled views of the surrounding lakes, parks, and mountains.

The tower is an essential part of a larger mixed-use development, and its design to LEED Gold standards places an emphasis on sustainable sites and energy optimization. The podium and basement levels of the various buildings work together to form a seamless network that is optimized for the greater master-planned development. Sunshades on the building’s exterior, combined with a high-performance façade enclosure system, allow for abundant natural light and breathtaking vistas to penetrate every level while significantly cutting down on energy consumption.

Mechanical systems have been developed to maximize the efficiency of operation, reduce energy and water use while increasing comfort levels inside the building. The highest quality materials are used throughout the structure to emphasize longevity and durability and lessen the building’s future impact on the local environment.

“The tower is a sustainable response to its urban context,” sayid Travis Soberg, AIA, LEED AP, in a press release. “The building integrates conservation methods throughout the design that reinforce our commitment to environmental responsibility.”

Photo Credits: Goettsch Partners

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Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature – Mirage Volcano Set to Close

Hard Rock confirms iconic Las Vegas fire feature, Mirage Volcano will close.

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Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature - Mirage Volcano Set to Close

The Mirage’s fiery volcano, which has been erupting regularly on the Las Vegas Strip for over 30 years, will soon cease activity forever.

Since MGM Resorts International sold the property to Hard Rock International last year, the resort has been undergoing a rebranding process, and the resort’s iconic volcano will not play a role in the new resort plan.

The time of the final eruption for the Mirage Volcano is unknown, and neither Hard Rock nor MGM officials would confirm exactly when the volcano would be dismantled. They plan to build another one of Hard Rocks guitar-shaped hotels in the space.

About The Mirage Volcano

When the resort opened on November 22, 1989, the volcano quickly became a fan favorite. A modeled three-acre paradise resembling the South Seas is routinely jolted awake by the ominous rumbles of the Mirage Volcano throughout the night. Rapid movement of water along with creative lighting resembles lava.

Exciting flames shoot over 60 feet into the air. If you’ve ever watched the show from the street, you can literally feel the searing heat. With music composed by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, more than 150 Fireshooters, developed by WET Design (who also created the Fountains of Bellagio), propel fireballs in a dramatic choreographed display.

The volcano was one of the first free attractions paving the way for others like the pirate battle at Treasure Island, the light shows and concerts at the Fremont Street Experience, and the Bellagio fountains.

From 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., the volcano at the Mirage continues its hourly eruptions. We took the opportunity to see this fiery spectacle, perhaps for the last time, while exhibiting at the PSP Deck Expo recently. The street was packed with onlookers watching the show on the street.

Elaine Wynn, who was married to casino magnate Steve Wynn at the time, first came up with the idea for the volcano as a great way to differentiate the Mirage from the competition.

In recent years, however, Las Vegas has been shifting away from a transparently thematic approach with its newest resorts, including the Cosmopolitan (2010), Circa (2020), and Resorts World (2021), and its reliance on free attractions and loss leaders, such as buffets and poker rooms, to bring in the bustling crowds.

Las Vegas Residents Eager To Keep Attraction

There has been a running sentiment amongst casino insiders that free attractions such as the Mirage Volcano have turned into a drain on profits. In light of the news that the Volcano is slated to be removed, many Las Vegas residents have expressed they do not want to see the attraction go.

“When I heard the news, I remember just wondering why this was going to happen,” Alden Gillespy, a longtime resident of Las Vegas and critic of removing the volcano, told the Las Vegas Sun. “The fact that they were going to tear down the volcano, that hit me personally.”

Every time it goes off, the Volcano in Las Vegas draws in hundreds of people, both young and old, to the Strip. The idea of tearing it down has been met with pushback. A group of passionate residents in Las Vegas has banded together to compel Hard Rock International and the city government to stop the new owner from demolishing what they say is a historic landmark. A petition to protect the volcano has over 9,000 signatures of support.

Among those who think the volcano should be preserved is UNLV history professor Michael Green.

“We lost a lot of hotels on the Strip because of the understandable need to build better, more modern hotels,” Green told the Sun. “The volcano is a reminder of how it helped trigger the modern Las Vegas boom.”

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