Lake Wales Adopts New Plumbing Water Use Standards

A new ordinance governing water use and plumbing fixtures will soon be in place in Lake Wales in hopes of reducing future demand on municipal water supplies.

Representatives from the Southwest Florida water Management District (SWFWMD) were in attendance at a recent meeting of the Lake Wales Planning and Zoning Board to provide information on the Florida water Star Certification process and criteria. After approval by the P&Z board the ordinance was advanced to the city commission.

According to SWFWMD representatives, the Florida water Star (FWS) Program is similar to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and is “a certification program that encourages water efficiency in appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes, as well as water quality benefits from best management practices in landscapes.”

The report says that an average homeowner can save “up to $530 on annual utility bills and up to 48,000 gallons of water each year” by meeting FWS standards. Owners of commercial buildings will save even more water.

“As we catch this at the point of new construction, we can stop a tremendous loss of water right at the time the home or commercial building comes out of the ground,” said Cindy Rodriguez, senior government affairs regional manager.

City spokesman Eric Marshall pointed out that “it costs a builder between $700 to $1,400 to equip a house to be Florida water Star℠ certified. Upon inspection, builders may apply for a $1000 rebate, while rebates last.”

The Florida water Star℠ certified program is the City’s third water conservation program.

Residents may help reduce water usage through two complimentary City conservation programs, in partnership with the Polk Regional water Cooperative, water Conservation Kit Program and Wireless Rain Sensor Program.

“FWS certification provides assurance that a house or building meets the criteria for a higher standard of water efficiency. The applicant (builder) is responsible for meeting the requirements of the applicable Florida water Star certification.”

The requirements include:

• Providing information and documentation necessary for verification of criteria for certification

• Cooperation in the inspection process of structures submitted for certification

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Continuous expansion of the Lake Wales utilities service system to include new development is increasing demand on water supplies. The Florida Water Star program is one way to increase conservation efforts in the face of more demand.

• Commitment to the applicable program criteria by adhering to your company’s quality control procedures (in accordance with ISO 17020).

In presenting the proposed ordinance, city staff told commissioners that “the City of Lake Wales wants future homes and commercial construction to meet these FWS standards. To accomplish this goal, builders must obtain the FWS certification prior to the Building Official issuing the Certificate of Occupancy. Implementing this ordinance will ensure that adequate water supplies are available for existing and future users.”

The city is expecting a wave of new development in future years. Some believe that the current population within city limits of some 16.600 will more than double within a 10 to fifteen year period.

January 3, 2023