Florida Town Adopts Conservation Ordinance to Address Water Shortage

CodeWatcher Florida Water Star

The Southwest Florida Water Management District successfully collaborated with the City of Mulberry to approve a new conservation ordinance based on Florida Water Star (FWS) standards.

FWS is a water conservation certification program that pre-dates the EPA’s WaterSense, and is applicable for new and existing homes and commercial developments with strict water-efficiency standards for indoor fixtures and appliances, landscape design and irrigation systems. This action allows the city to maximize their permitted water quantities for new development in their area.

The new ordinance mandates water conservation compliance prior to receiving a certificate of occupancy for residential and commercial properties. The ordinance applies to new construction and retrofits of more than 50% of an existing irrigation system. To meet ordinance requirements, builders must achieve FWS certification or submit documentation verifying stringent water efficiency requirements have been met. Currently, homebuilders can receive $700 in rebates for each FWS-certified home.

Polk County is facing a challenge of how to meet the water needs of the growing region as the Upper Floridan Aquifer, the traditional source of water, is reaching its withdrawal limit. Other municipalities are considering similar actions to maximize their permitted water quantities, while alternative water supplies are being investigated.

The FWS Program was developed by the St. Johns River Water Management District in 2006 and became a statewide program in 2012. Most recently, FWS became part of the Florida Home Builder Association’s Certified Ratings Program and is now administered by Triconic LLC.