Marion County Developer Earns Water-Saving Certifications

Doug Tharpe and Kenneth Colen

Governing Board Secretary Doug Tharp, left, awards the Florida Water StarSM certification to Kenneth D. Colen, president of On Top of the World Communities, Inc.

The developer of a major community in Marion County was recently certified as a builder of Florida Water StarSM (FWS) homes.

Governing Board Secretary Doug Tharp presented the certification to On Top of the World Communities during the community’s conservation expo in September.

The community has been working to meet the stringent requirements for FWS certification for several years. Two homes at On Top of the World were certified in December 2010 as FWS Silver. Located in the development’s Renaissance neighborhood, the homes are the first in Marion County to receive the water-saving certification.

“We first heard about Florida Water StarSM at a conference about four years ago,” said Phillip Hisey, the development’s landscape superintendent. “We contacted people at the St. Johns River Water Management District and let them know that we wanted to get involved.”

Hisey said that the community began working with drip irrigation, pressure-regulated sprinkler heads, moisture sensors and other technology to help increase the overall efficiency of irrigation systems in the development.

“All the new houses in the community are built with efficient irrigation systems and evapotranspiration sensors to meet the certification,” said Hisey. “The interior of the houses are all built to the standard. We try to build these kinds of efficiencies into all our houses.”

On Top of the World Communities’ staff members serve on the FWS technical advisory committee representing builders. Hisey said he hopes to help develop standards that cater to the needs of large-scale developers such as On Top of the World.

“Developers of larger communities have unique challenges,” he said. “We’re happy to represent the interests of builders for the Florida Water StarSM program.”

Florida Water StarSM is a voluntary certification program for builders, developers and homeowners. It encourages water efficiency in appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes. For more information on the FWS certification, contact Susan Douglas, FWS program coordinator, (352) 796-7211, ext. 4752, or visit the District’s website at