By Matt Wiley
Wesley Chapel soon will be home to a beach. Well, not really. But, when development is complete at the Epperson Ranch South (ERS) Master-Planned Unit Development (MPUD) — located north of the Bridgewater community off Curley Rd. — it will be home to the first Crystal Lagoons pools in the U.S.
More than 300 Crystal Lagoons —massive, self-sustaining, crystal-clear swimming pools — already have been built or are in development in 60 countries around the globe, and now the technology company that created them (Miami-based Crystal Lagoons US, Corp.) has made an agreement with the ERS developer — Tampa-based Metro Development Group — to install several in Epperson Ranch.
The original Epperson Ranch Development of Regional Impact (DRI) has been dormant for years, after the original developer (Miami-based Lennar Homes) sold the property to Metro in 2007. The DRI since has been split into three MPUDs that also include the Epperson Ranch Town Center (also located north of Bridgewater on Curley Rd., just south of Elam Rd.) and EPCO Ranch North, which is located off Curley Rd., north of Elam Rd.
Metro received approval from the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for the development in 2009, and is poised to break ground by the beginning of next year, says Metro president Greg Singleton.
“(This community) is a real game-changer,” Singleton says. “This is the first (Crystal Lagoon) being built in the entire country.”
Singleton explains that the final site plans are still going through the approval process with Pasco County, but that Metro is going to build 1,516 homes in four separate communities, each with its own six-acre lagoon, which will serve as a sort of community pool and gathering place.
“An Olympic-sized pool is about 0.3 acres,” Singleton explains. “This is 20 times that size.”
The lagoons will feature various depths to provide something for everyone. Singleton says that there will be beach-style wade-in areas for toddlers and those who are looking for a shallow water experience, as well as deeper areas (some up to eight-feet-deep) for swimming and water sports, like kayaking and paddle boarding.
Crystal Lagoons US Corp. CEO Kevin Morgan says that, although these lagoons are massive, they can be constructed and even maintained for about the same investment cost of a resort-style, Olympic-sized (25 meters x 50 meters) pool.
“Developers will say, ‘If it’s so inexpensive to build, it must be really expensive to operate,’” Morgan explains. “But, the answer is ‘no.’”
In fact, Morgan says that in a 12-month operating period, a six-acre lagoon can be run for the same cost as a heated, Olympic-sized pool.
He explains that the lagoons initially will be filled using local well water, but then will be refilled naturally throughout the year — with rainwater.
“It will require very little ‘make-up’ water,” Morgan says. “Based upon the amount of rain throughout the year (in Florida), there’s usually a high accumulation during the summer, and the lagoons act as a major catch basin. That rainwater then burns off through natural evaporation. After the initial fill, you’re using hardly any new water. In fact, they use much less than golf courses. (The lagoons) are both very sustainable and eco-friendly at the same time.”
Morgan adds that, “(The lagoons) use only two percent of the energy consumption you normally would for other traditional pool filtration systems. And, they use 100 times less chemicals and have a 98-percent savings in energy consumption. Through a process called remote telemetry, we have sensors fixed to all of our lagoons around the world. We then use Internet-based iCloud technology to monitor each lagoon’s functionality and water quality from our headquarters in Miami. That’s our responsibility to the developer, maintaining that crystal-clear water.”
And Another First…
In addition to the lagoon, through a partnership with Bright House Networks, Epperson Ranch South also is focusing on technology. Singleton explains that each home in ERS will be outfitted with fiber-optic ULTRAFi technology that will allow exceptional Internet download and upload speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (1,000 megabits for downloads and uploads).
To put that into perspective, Verizon FiOS’ fastest Internet service features speeds of 500 megabits per second. The ULTRAFi technology allows for double those speeds and for homeowners to utilize online entertainment services on multiple devices simultaneously without interruption. The community will be the first in the country to use such technology, Singleton says.
“You’ve got two huge things that aren’t being done anywhere else,” Singleton explains proudly. “And, we’re doing them here in Florida — specifically right here in Wesley Chapel.”