Outdoor Water Use Regulations

Governor Brown issued State of Emergency proclamations for the continued statewide drought in January and April of 2014. In support of the governor’s initiatives, the Division of the State Architect (DSA) proposed regulations in the 2013 California Green Building Standards Code (also known as the CALGreen Code) to reduce outdoor water use for landscape irrigation by public schools and community colleges.

The DSA regulations were approved on an emergency basis by the Building Standards Commission on July 21, 2015, and are based upon the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) regulations adopted by the Department of Water Resources. Effective January 1, 2016, applications received by DSA are subject to the Outdoor Water Use regulations.

All projects with new irrigated landscape areas over 500 square feet in the scope of work, and projects at existing sites with rehabilitated landscape work over 1,200 square feet, need to be submitted to DSA for verification of compliance through a self-certification process. The self-certification is a two-step process: 1) at the initial submittal to DSA, and 2) after completion of the installation of the irrigated landscape areas. A review fee of $500 is required at the time of submittal.

Additional requirements for existing campuses apply when a new building or an addition to an existing building is constructed. This requirement is related to the “footprint” size of the building or addition and calls for the upgrade of existing irrigated landscape areas. The intent is to rehabilitate areas on campuses to optimize water efficiency. Use of graywater and recycled water is encouraged by the Department of Water Resources. Special landscapes, like playing fields, are given higher irrigation adjustment factors to maintain them for use in educational programs.

Refer to DSA Procedure PR 15-03 (PDF - 338 KB) for detailed information.

Also available is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Department of Water Resources Publications

DSA Publications

For DSA Submittal Requirements:

Please direct any questions about the DSA Outdoor Water Use regulations by sending your inquiry by email to Ida A. Clair, AIA, Principal Architect, at