The Sandy Springs City Council recently approved an incentive program for water conservation that now includes four turtle awards, not three.

Since introduced at an earlier council work session, the staff upped incentives for businesses and homeowners who use new technology to conserve water. The program reduces building permit fees based on the number of measures used and now offers 100 percent compensation, as well as a platinum turtle award, at the top level.

“I am very pleased that Sandy Springs is a leader in water conservation,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “This … is truly a way to address water shortages that must be avoided if the Atlanta area is to continue to grow.”

The four-tier program awards a bronze conservation turtle for the use of lower-flow fixtures and water-conserving landscaping.

A silver turtle goes to a property owner who completes additional measures like limiting turf areas and adding pervious surfaces. The permit fee is reduced 30 percent at this level. For example, a builder of a single-family home with 2,400 square feet would pay $973 instead of $1,390.

To receive the gold turtle, a person must complete the aforementioned requirements and apply two of the following systems: gray-water reuse, rainwater collection or air-conditioning condensate recirculators. The permit fee then is reduced 50 percent.

A platinum turtle goes to those who apply all recommended conservation measures.

Discussion on water conservation began in November 2007. Two other strategies were presented April 21: a water conservation Web site and an ordinance that allows the city to enforce state-mandated drought restrictions.

— Amy Wenk