Drought Restriction Ordinance Means New California Lawns Will be Smaller

The California Water Commission approved new limits for the amount of water that can be used on landscapes.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the California Water Commission approved new limits for the amount of water that can be used on landscapes. The ordinance applies to newly constructed buildings including houses, businesses and schools.

For new homes being constructed, grass will be limited to 25% of the home’s combined front, back and side yard. New commercial, school and business properties will need to look to other landscape designs, as grass will mostly be banned.

The ordinance also affects current homeowners who are looking to renovate. Outdoor areas that have more than 2,500 square feet of landscape will also be submitted to lawn cutbacks.

According to the Department of Water Resources, the ordinance is expected to reduce the water use of a new home by about 20% or about 12,000 gallons a year. Water use on new commercial landscapes will be cut by about 35%. The ordinance takes effect Dec. 1.

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a historic 25% cut in urban water use back in April and the government offered rebated for people who removed their turfgrass and replaced it with more drought-friendly landscaping choices. With the added incentives the rebate program reached the $340 million fund level for turfgrass replacement earlier this month.

While these have been a step in the right direction, as the population continues to grow the state will continue to inforce restrictions on landscapes that have more than 500 square feet. There will also be a review system and permits required to renovate landscape areas larger than 2,500 feet.

The only landscapes that are exempt from the new regulations are those that are irrigated with recycled water.

The first draft of the ordinance was put together in June and then they received comments as to revisions that were made before the ordinance officially passed. State law requires all land-use agencies to adopt a water-efficient landscape ordinance that is at least as stringent as the one approved Wednesday. Local agencies will be required to report on implementation and enforcement of the ordinance by Dec. 31 and must issue subsequent reports annually after that.