What are the New Landscape Irrigation Regulations in California?

New rules limit the amount of grass on a lot, and the size of swimming pools, unless you compensate with other non-potable water.lawn-sprinkler.jpg

Revisions to the Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) came into force in 2015 and have slowly been rolling out across California. As of January 1, 2017 these regulations are in force in all jurisdictions and cities must report enforcement during project plan approvals to the State Water Board for all commercial projects, and all residential projects with at least 500 square feet of landscaped area.
What does this mean for landscape design?

The formulas used to calculate how much water is allowed (known as MAWA), and how much water will be used (known as ETWU) are complicated.  As a simple estimate, you can assume that approximately 25% of the landscape can be made up of high water use features and plants, so long as the rest is low use. This severely limits the amount of grass that will be allowed and also restricts pools.

What’s included in the high water use category?

Primarily pools and grass. There are other lush garden plants, such as rose bushes, but these rarely represent a significant percentage of the overall landscape plan.
What if I want more grass, a pool or lush plantings?

The code allows you to offset potable water use with so-called “alternate sources of non-potable water”, which are those captured and reused onsite. Options include rainwater, storm water and recycled grey water.

My local authorities don’t allow me to use onsite water, what can I do?

The local authority having jurisdiction (your city or county) always has the option to implement local variations to the plumbing and building code. In most cases, however, limitations on using on-site water are due to misunderstanding at the local level. Building codes change every 18 months and local inspectors are not always up to date on the latest developments.

 Our product, the NEXtreater, meets all requirements of the California State Plumbing Code, so with a little bit of persistence it is very possible for you to overcome any hurdles you may be having at the local level.
If you are having issues getting your plans approved don’t hesitate to contact us TODAY!
Tom Wood, CEO & Co-Founder
 Tom is Co-Founder and CEO of Nexus eWater. Prior to founding the company, Tom worked with two other water startups and has accumulated more than 10 years of experience in water treatment product development. Tom holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Physics from Queens University, Canada, and a Masters in Systems Engineering from the Australian National University.