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Calif. Water Ordinance Update

By Angela M. Woodward, RLA, past president, Southern California Chapter ASLA 2006-2007

AB 1881 requires The Calif. Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) not later than January 1, 2009 to update the model ordinance. It also requires local agencies by January 1, 2010 to adopt the updated model ordinance or equivalent or it will be automatically adopted by statute. The bill requires the Energy Commission, in consultation with DWR, to adopt performance standards and labeling requirements for irrigation controllers, moisture sensors, emission devices, and valves to reduce the wasteful, uneconomic, inefficient, or unnecessary consumption of energy or water.

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The Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (AB 1881) proposed Model Efficient Landscape Ordinance regulation text is now available from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The 45-day public comment period opened on February 8, 2008 and closes on March 27, 2008 at 5 pm. Professionals and the public are encouraged to review and give their input on the updated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Initial Statement of Reasons and updated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance can be found on the DWR Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance Webpage:

Only two public hearings are scheduled:

1st Public Hearing
March 25, 2008
9:00 a.m.
Resources Agency Building Auditorium
1416 9th Street
Sacramento, Calif.

2nd Public Hearing
March 27, 2008
9:00 a.m.
Inland Empire Utilities Agency
6075 Kimball Avenue
Chino, Calif.

If you wish to respond to the updated water ordinance or attend either of the public hearings, please refer to the DWR website and click “How to Participate.”

The updated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance will be adopted in January 2009. On or before January 1, 2010, local agencies will be required to adopt a water efficient landscape ordinance that is at least as effective in conserving water as this ordinance; or this updated ordinance.

A few possible impacts resulting from compliance with the updated water landscape ordinance may include;

  1. Change the evapotranspiration adustment factor (ETAF) from 0.80 to 0.70, resulting in limiting turf to active recreation uses.
  2. Require irrigation water audits as a Certificate of Occupancy.
  3. Retroactively affect existing landscapes by requiring water audits every five years for projects over one acre.
  4. Approved and future community specific plans and design guidelines may need to be evaluated on their water consumption.

Review of the model water ordinance will assist industry professionals in understanding, planning and preparing for the new water saving measure costs, schedule and other impacts to private and public new and existing landscapes in January 2010.

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