As a sign of the times, more than 40 members of the pool and spa industry gathered to discuss the implications of California’s newly amended Title 20 regulations.

Held Feb. 4, in Newport Beach, Calif., the meeting was hosted by the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association.

“I think the event went well and provided a good opening forum,” said Bob Nichols, organizer and head of IPSSA’s Government Relations Committee. “The conclusions are, [Title 20] is not going to affect warranties, and distribution is not really going to do anything seriously [about enforcement].”

Title 20 states that pump motors of 1 horsepower or above now are required to be two-, multi- or variable-speed on residential filtration pumps. However, manufacturers will keep warranties on older pump-motor combinations and replacement motors will not be included until Jan. 1, 2010.

In 2009, state utilities will offer rebates for two-speed and variable-speed pumps. However, only variable-speed pumps will be eligible for the program in 2010.

Though all seem to agree on the law’s interpretation the issue of enforcement was the source of some debate, particularly concerning unlicensed contractors.

On one hand, the utility companies haven’t been asking for contractor license numbers when issuing rebates. Conversely, the California Energy Commission can’t provide adequate enforcement to prevent unlicensed technicians from selling consumers cheaper, noncompliant products.

“We try to sell the compliant [equipment], but the guy right behind us is selling the noncompliant stuff and no one cares,” Nichols said.

The CEC doesn’t have any defined punitive measures for noncompliance, and its enforcement team for Title 20 is composed of a single staff member.

Several attendees at the conference appealed to distribution for enforcement, but no one could guarantee a proactive campaign against unlicensed purchases.

“All [the manufacturers] have printed a ton of literature on this, and it goes on deaf ears because there are no teeth at the back-end,” said Art Grimmitt, territory sales manager for Pentair Water Pool and Spa in Moorpark, Calif.

In the meantime, PG&E will continue its rebate program for pumps, and manufacturers pledged to continue providing marketing materials to create interest with homeowners. What remains to be seen is how the service sector embraces the new regulations and what penalties will be in place for those who actively disregard them.

“Everyone has said the black market in the trade is a problem,” Nichols said. “Selling pool pumps and heaters to uncertified and unlicensed people is eventually going to hurt someone.”