California Water Waste Legislation

On August 1, 2014, water restrictions ordered by the State Water-Board took effect. New regulations aim to reduce excessive outdoor water runoff that flows onto streets or hardscape, water wasted by hosing down sidewalks and driveways, as well as washing cars without a shutoff nozzle. Violators can be fined up to $500 per day. However, most water agencies have stated they are starting with warnings and educational campaigns to achieve compliance. Even so, agencies are gearing up for implementation, with some hiring enforcement agents.

Irrigation runoff is defined in the legislation as any water that flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, and parking lots or structures. It is important to note that some irrigation overspray due to wind or system design factors is not considered runoff, and is not subject to these regulations. Additionally, some agencies have stated runoff due to unforeseen mechanical failure will generally not result in fines. Please contact your local water agency about enforcement details in your area.

Cagwin & Dorward would like to work with you to limit the impact of these regulations. Our standard landscape maintenance service includes a thorough twice annual irrigation system inspection as well as irrigation programming to minimize runoff. Given we are generally on-site only during service visits; ideally our customers would partner with us and report irrigation conditions, observed in our absence, that may need attention.

Actions you can Take to Minimize your Chance of Receiving a Fine:

  • Communicate with us: Have you noticed any water runoff or other problems with your irrigation system? Let us know so we can provide proposals for repair, or offer helpful suggestions.
  • Approve Repairs Quickly: The faster you approve repairs, the faster we can complete the work and reduce water-waste on your site.
  • Discuss Your Tolerance for Landscape Stress: Run-off is usually caused by deficiencies in the irrigation system. Over-watering of one area is often necessary to compensate for system inefficiencies in other areas. If this is the case on your site, please let us know if you want us to reduce the risk of runoff by deficit watering in areas with deficient irrigation, which will result in a stressed plant appearance.
  • Turf Reduction: A very effective way to reduce potential runoff and water consumption is to strategically reduce turf, particularly on slopes or in small strips such as parking lot medians. Let us know if you would like suggestions for replacing turf with popular drought resistant plant materials. These renovations may pay for themselves through savings over time.

Questions about enforcement in your area? Contact your local water agency. Not sure where to start? Contact your Cagwin & Dorward Account Manager for help.

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