Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

Santa Rosa Demonstration Garden, Photo by Julie Saare-Edmonds 2015

Drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficent-irrigation save water while offering habitat for pollinators. DWR/2015

About half of the urban water is used for landscape irrigation in California. Large water savings can be gained by efficient landscape design, installation, and maintenance. New development and retrofitted landscape water efficiency standards are governed by the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO). All agencies must adopt, implement, and enforce the MWELO or a more stringent ordinance.


In 2015, Executive Order B-29-15 (EO) tasked DWR with revising the 2010 updated MWELO to increase water efficiency standards for new and retrofitted landscapes through encouraging the use of more efficient irrigation systems, graywater usage, and onsite storm water capture, and by limiting the portion of landscapes that can be covered in turf. Updating the ordinance to incorporate these elements will help stretch our limited water supplies. The EO also required that agencies report on their implementation and enforcement of local ordinances by December 31, 2015.  DWR’s Water Use and Efficiency branch worked with several affected agencies, interested groups, and the public to prepare the current (2015) updated MWELO to improve landscape irrigation water savings in accordance with the EO.   


2018 MWELO Report Assistance and Forms:

For previous submittals and archived public process records, please contact

MWELO References

The Landscape Stakeholder Advisory Group (LSAG) was organized in December 2016 to provide a public forum for interested stakeholders in the landscape industry and public agency sector to provide input on landscape water use efficiency topics. The LSAG is open to all interested stakeholders. Currently members of LSAG include Landscape Architects, Landscape Designers, Landscape Contractors, Irrigation Consultants, irrigation equipment manufacturers, soil scientists, city and county staff, water suppliers, State agencies, educators, horticulturists, nursery growers and arborists. To join the LSAG, email In the subject line, write “Join LSAG”.

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