The adopted regulation text is available on the Board’s Water Conservation Emergency Regulations webpage.
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Using potable water for the following activities:
Potable water, also known as drinking water, is water that meets state and federal drinking water standards and is safe for sanitary purposes such as drinking, cooking or handwashing.
The prohibitions apply to all water users including individuals, cities, counties, and businesses.
Yes. Water can be used for immediate health and safety needs.
Yes. The emergency regulation only prohibits irrigating turf (lawn) on public street medians. Trees provide many environmental benefits, such as shade, carbon storage, and animal habitat. Urban trees also reduce heat island effects and associated health impacts, absorb and filter storm water, reduce urban flooding risk, protect air quality, and save energy by shading buildings. For more information on taking care of trees while saving water, see the Save Our Trees section within SaveOurWater.com.
Any local agency or government authorized to enforce infractions can enforce these prohibitions at their discretion, along with the State Water Board. The emergency regulation allows agencies/governments to decide if and how to enforce these prohibitions along with their own existing conservation rules.
You can report water waste violations online at www.mvwd.org/Reportwaste. The website allows you to upload photos, which helps with enforcement decision-making.
The emergency regulation does not impact swimming pools.
Non-functional turf is a ground cover surface of mowed grass that is ornamental and not otherwise used for human recreation purposes. Non-functional turf does not include school fields, sports fields, and areas regularly used for civic or community events.
No, residential properties may continue to irrigate turf, subject to local rules. The Board encourages people to reduce turf irrigation on their properties and to convert turf to water-wise plants, but those are not required by this regulation. For more information and practical tips for converting your landscape and making your yard more water-wise, visit SaveOurWater.com.
The ban only applies to irrigation of non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors and only applies to irrigation with potable water. It does not apply to residential lawns or any turf that is regularly used for human recreational purposes, such as community spaces, or sports fields and other turf spaces used for recreation or events. The regulation does not ban the irrigation of trees or other non-turf plantings. There is an exemption process available for certain low water using turf species and irrigation approaches. To be exempt from the ban, an owner or manager must provide to their water supplier evidence that they have met two requirements: (1) the user must certify that the turf species needs low levels of water (a plant factor of 0.3 or less; “plant factor” is a factor used to estimate the amount of water needed by plants – see section 491 of title 23 of the California Code of Regulations) and (2) the user must demonstrate that the turf is irrigated in a way that uses low levels of water (less than 40 percent of reference evapotranspiration). For more information on plant factors and reference evapotranspiration, see the state's Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance.
An HOA should review areas of turf that it maintains, consult with residents, and determine whether the turf is functional or not. Water suppliers may defer to HOAs’ determinations that specific areas of turf are used for recreation or community events. However, water suppliers also retain the authority to enforce the irrigation ban if there is a documented violation.
The regulation does not restrict the watering of trees, just turf. Although most mature trees often require little to no irrigation, some species do.
Local or Board enforcement may include warning letters, conservation orders, and fines (up to $500 per day). The Board also encourages agencies to provide additional assistance to disadvantaged communities and translate conservation announcements and materials into the languages spoken at properties in commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.
Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are prohibited from fining residents who are taking appropriate drought measures to conserve water. In drought emergencies, many homeowners want to change their landscaping to plants and structures that require less water or to reduce watering turf. The State Water Board regularly receives complaints during drought from homeowners frustrated by HOAs enforcement of landscaping rules, such as requiring lawn watering or maintaining specific plants. This enforcement may violate the Davis-Stirling Act The State Water Board or a local agency could impose penalties on any HOA that violates specific portions of the Davis-Stirling Act. The emergency regulation includes a similar provision prohibiting cities and counties from restricting certain drought responses.
Yes, but only to non-functional turf on property the homeowners’ association (HOA) owns, not residences. While an individual’s property is considered residential, property owned and maintained by an HOA is considered the same as landscapes owned and maintained by commercial or institutional entities. This means that the regulation does not prevent homeowners from irrigating turf; it prohibits the irrigation of non-functional turf (with potable water) on property an HOA owns. However, the regulation does not ban the irrigation of turf used for recreation or community activities.