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Revised Ordinance Would Cut Water Use by at Least 30 Percent on New Landscapes for Homes and Businesses

DWR to Hold Public Meetings to Discuss Draft Model Ordinance

Julie Saare-Edmonds (916) 651-9676
Senior Environmental Scientist
Jennifer Iida (916) 653-3925
Information Officer

SACRAMENTO – New California yards and commercial landscaping would use far less water under the rules of a model landscape ordinance updated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the direction of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The updated draft rules would prohibit installation of turf unless it is used for a specific function such as sports fields or gathering areas, require the installation of efficient sprinkler nozzles, ban turf in street medians and parkways with few exceptions and require use of compost to improve the water-holding capacity of soil.

“About half of California’s urban water is used on landscaping,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.  “We can gain a lot of water savings year after year with smart landscape design, installation and maintenance.”

In all, DWR’s draft revisions to the landscape ordinance are expected to reduce the water use of a new home by 16,000 gallons a year, or 30 percent.  Water use on new commercial landscapes would be cut by approximately 40 percent under the draft rules proposed by DWR.

California is expected to add 472,000 single- and multi-family housing units with an associated 20,000 acres of new landscape over the next three years.  The state’s population is expected to grow by more than 11 million, reaching nearly 50 million people by 2050.  New landscape standards are critical to ensure that new plantings are as efficient as possible.

In an April 1 executive order, the Governor directed DWR to update its State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance in order to help California cope with a fourth year of extreme drought and build resiliency for future droughts.

State law requires all land-use agencies, such as cities and counties, to adopt a water-efficient landscape ordinance that is at least as efficient as the model ordinance prepared by DWR.  DWR’s model ordinance takes effect in those cities and counties that fail to adopt their own.

The draft revisions to the model ordinance reduce the size threshold for landscapes subject to the ordinance to 500 square feet for both commercial and residential property.  Land-use agencies also would be required to report on ordinance adoption and enforcement each year.

DWR seeks public comment on the draft revisions to the model ordinance at two public meetings to be held next week:
June 16, 2015 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
To join this meeting: https://resources.webex.com/resources/j.php?MTID=mf9ff1a0a6fcc7d4fedbfa57fa7bc3745
            Call-in toll-free number: 1-877-952-3588                Attendee access code: 590 225 6

June 19, 2015 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Resources Building Auditorium
1416 9th Street, 1st Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
To join this meeting: https://resources.webex.com/resources/j.php?MTID=m6aa000d2b9905eda9f9dbae9d86dc2c1
            Call-in toll-free number: 1-877-952-3588               Attendee access code: 590 225 6

Stakeholders may attend the public meetings and/or submit comments by email. Public comments are due by Friday June 26, 2015. Send comments to:
Revised MWELO can be read here: http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/landscapeordinance/

This is the fourth year of California’s drought. To learn about the actions the state has taken to manage our water systems and cope with the drought’s impacts, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

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