It is a crucial juncture in California for determining how future droughts will be managed. Cities and counties throughout the Golden State face a deadline for updating their water-management plans, which include protocol for handling drought.

Revisions also are due for two statewide documents that set minimum standards for water conservation — the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance and the Urban Water Management Plan.

In response, the California Pool & Spa Association has prepared a model plan suggesting which actions pertaining to pools and spas should be put in place at each stage of a drought. The language will be sent to the state’s 700 local water districts, 468 cities and 58 counties.

“This is significant, as it allows the industry to go on the offense rather than just fighting symbolic restrictions that have no basis in fact,” said John Norwood, president and chief lobbyist of CPSA, located in Sacramento, Calif.

The plan is meant to accomplish multiple goals — to avoid the imposition of water restrictions that don’t truly result in savings, and to discourage such restrictions and even pool-permit bans in early stages, which the California industry has had to face on several occasions during the current historic drought.

“These suggested regulations ensure that our industry is not disproportionately affected by regulations, while fostering fact-based water-conservation steps,” Norwood states in the letter to officials that will accompany the plan.

The plan suggests measures small and large to help conserve every drop possible:

Stage 1: Strategies would include regular checks and repairs to address leaks. It also would require pool professionals to inform customers about products and practices that can conserve water, including use of pool covers, pleated filters and timed or weather-controlled automatic fill devices.

Stage 2: Requirements would include regular checking of auto-fill devices; the inclusion of bubble pool blankets with new pools; the storage of water drained for renovations in temporary pools or bladders so it can be reused; and the employment of best practices to extend the life of pool water or the use of alternative technologies to avoid having to replace pool and spa water.

Stage 3: This phase is classified as a water shortage emergency, so CPSA recommends more aggressive mandates, such as shutting off waterfeatures on pools; use of covers when a pool or spa is not in use; strong encouragement by contractors to replace continuous-flow auto-fill devices; education of pool owners on how to plug overflow devices to save water when the pool is being used; use of water-efficient plants, sprinklers, drip or microspray irrigation, as well as soil and rain sensing irrigation controllers. Additionally, the association would ban owners from draining and refilling pools by more than one-third, unless necessary for health or repairs.

CPSA has long maintained that more drastic bans should not be imposed until the last phase of drought, usually Stage 4, when officials have determined that only crucial use of water can be permitted.

The association’s plan also includes several facts and figures regarding water use of pools compared with other practices, as well as the scope and scale of the pool and spa industry and its contribution to the state’s economy, to boost its argument against water restrictions.

CPSA also is directly addressing the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance and Urban Water Management Plan by submitting comments and language for consideration.

As summer came to an end and Californians crossed their fingers waiting for the predicted El Nino storms, the industry continued to face new requirements across the state. CPSA recently was able to fend off restrictions in Covina and Thousand Oaks, but two more cities — Del Mar and Signal Hill — are considering them.

“We get five to 10 alerts every Friday or Monday,” Norwood said. “Until it starts to rain a lot, we expect this to continue.”