Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

On April 1, 2015, the Governor issued Executive Order B-29-15 which called for revising the State's Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) to increase water efficiency standards for new and retrofitted landscapes through more efficient irrigation systems, onsite storm water capture, and by limiting the portion of landscape that can be covered in turf. It also requires reporting on the implementation and enforcement of local ordinance. All agencies must adopt, implement, and enforce the MWELO or a more stringent ordinance.

Additional information on the Executive Order and MWELO can be found on the state Department of Water Resources webpage:

Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

The City is currently engaged in updating its development standards to incorporate the required water efficient landscape standards. Highlights of the State law that must be addressed in the City ordinance include:

  • MWELO requirements apply to any landscaping project greater than 500 square feet that requires a permit, plan check or design review.  
  • Landscape area means all the planting areas, turf areas, and water features in a landscape design plan. The landscape area does not include footprints of buildings or structures, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, decks, patios, gravel or stone walks, other pervious or non-pervious hardscapes, and other non-irrigated areas designated for non-development (e.g., open spaces and existing native vegetation).
  • For new and rehabilitated landscapes subject to MWELO and less than 2,500 sq. ft., the streamlined Prescriptive Compliance Approach may be used. The Prescriptive Compliance Approach is a checklist of landscape standards that are met and documented on the Landscape Plan.
  • For landscapes of any size subject to MWELO, the Performance Compliance Approach can be used. The Performance Compliance Approach must be used for landscapes larger than 2,500 sq. ft. The Performance Compliance Approach has additional requirements beyond the Prescriptive Compliance Option. The Performance Compliance Approach must include a soil management report, landscape design plan, irrigation design plan, and a grading design plan.