Challenges to the swimming pool, spa and hot tub industry just keep coming. The last two years were dominated by the drought and fighting off state and local restrictions on the use of public water to fill and refill swimming pools, spas and hot tubs. But just when we started feeling good about CPSA’s many victories in these battles and early rain and snow started to look promising, reality set in.
On the water front, the State Water Quality Control Board has extended its water conservation mandates and a dry couple weeks in February has dampened enthusiasm that the historic drought may be coming to an end. CPSA continues to receive multiple notices each week that local cities and water districts are renewing their drought contingency restrictions for 2016. The good news is that public entities seem to be moving away from fill restrictions and permit bans for pools, spas, and hot tubs and centering their attention on covers as the primary conservation restriction applicable to the industry.
Another big challenge facing the industry is that the California Energy Commission just opened a new procedure which proposes to update and improve energy efficiency standards for all pool pumps and motors under 5 horsepower. The current standard applies only to filtration pumps. The proposed rules would apply to all pumps and motors including cleaner, spa and water feature pumps. In addition to the focus on pool pumps, the Energy Commission is also proposing increased standards on portable spas, hot tubs, exercise spas, combination exercise/spas, and inflatable spas.
Last but not least, the California Legislature is back in session and last week was the bill introduction deadline for 2016. We are still reviewing the almost 2,000 newly introduced bills, but the proposed tax of services is back and we’ll be on watch as several new bills on water conservation and urban water management plans that could affect the industry. There will no doubt will be an attempt to force a minimum wage bill to head off an initiative that would move the minimum wage in California to $15 per hour statewide. There are also numerous bills aimed at wage and job discrimination, restrictions on obtaining certain types of information during the hiring process and bills targeting independent contractors and the sharing economy. CPSA will be reviewing all of these bills for possible impact on the swimming pool, spa and hot tub industry.