Due to the pool industry’s efforts, Georgia homeowners can once again fill their swimming pools.

On Feb. 6, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a statewide water management plan that will lift the ban on pools and allow them to be filled from April through September 2008.

“This is what happens when the industry comes together,” said Charlie Schobel, vice president of government affairs at BioLab Inc. in Lawrenceville, Ga.

In January, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Georgia Chapter hired a public relations firm to help solicit positive media coverage for the industry. It was supplemented by a letter-writing campaign to public officials protesting the restrictions.

As a direct result of these efforts, legislators are fighting to take away the authority of the state’s Environmental Protection Division to ban pools as the drought continues. Two bills that would achieve this result, S.B. 368 and H.B. 1005, were introduced earlier this year.

However, in light of Gov. Perdue’s lifting of the ban, the pool bills have been tabled.

But proponents have said they plan to push the legislation forward in spite of the fact that the governor has removed the imminent threat, Lewis noted. This will ensure that Georgia keeps pools open for good.

Currently, APSP is focusing on enforcement in local jurisdictions.

“There is continued confusion over how the governor’s order will be interpreted. Some counties are allowing pool contractors to fill pools even before the April [start date], while others are not easing up at all,” said Shawn Still, general manager of Olympic Pool Plastering in Norcross, Ga., and vice president of the Georgia Chapter.

APSP plans to put together a drought-response Web site for the Georgia Chapter. It will archive press coverage on the recent events and legislation, and carry regional pool statistics.