Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO)


New Law, New Opportunities

The California Landscape Contractors Association was involved in the creation of the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (Assembly Bill 325, Clute), which was signed in to law in 1990. This led to additional work 14 years later on Assembly Bill 2717, which passed in 2004. This bill requested that the California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) convene a stakeholder task force, comprised of public and private agencies, to re-evaluate landscape water conservation and recommend proposals for improving the efficiency of water use in new and urban landscapes in California.

CLCA led the way in developing and launching a performance-based landscape water certification program for the industry (the CLCA Water Management Certification Program) in late 2007. This became only the fourth EPA WaterSense approved certification in the nation in 2010.

In 2006, CLCA was a critical stakeholder in meetings that led to the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 1881). This bill set a deadline for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to update the Model Ordinance in accordance with specified provisions from AB 2717. It also required local agencies to adopt the Model Ordinance or to create their own local equivalent. This all laid the foundation for the current version of the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO).

CLCA was virtually the only green industry representation in that process, and we worked hard to represent the interests of our members. CLCA won the battle to only recommend that trees be on their own irrigation valves and irrigation audits could be done by certified installers. CLCA did not win the fight for 24 inch setback for overhead sprinklers along any hardscape area. Overall, CLCA’s main position through the process was to not restrict plant material and focus on water budgets to prevent an overly cumbersome and bloated ordinance.

In 2013, CLCA was represented by Life Member Peter Estournes on DWR’s Independent Technical Panel (ITP). This panel convened some of California’s best industry minds to focus on landscape water efficiency. Through 2013, the panel made numerous recommendations to the state. Peter was also later selected to participate on the Urban Advisory Group to work on the implementation of several parts of Gov. Brown’s executive order #B-37-16, “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life.”

CLCA and its Resource Management Committee are a part of the new MWELO Landscape Stakeholder Advisory Group (LSAG) and continue to be vital part of new state bills that concern landscape or irrigation in California like 2016’s AB 814, AB 1928 and AB 2525.

California Department of Water Resources

Public resources or websites available from the California Department of Water Resources.