Skip to content

Local agencies react after state bans watering of non-residential, non-functional turf

Smart lawns, low-water landscaping urged as drought continues
Water spraying from sprinkler system in business park (Stock image).

Tri-Valley water agencies recommend non-residential property owners convert to smarter lawns and low-water landscaping, following the California State Water Resources Control Board's new emergency water conservation regulation issued on June 10 to curtail extraneous use of potable water.

The statewide regulation prohibits watering of non-functional turf on industrial, commercial and institutional properties. The board defined "non-functional turf" as mowed grass that is considered purely decorative, and is not used for recreational purposes or civic and community events.

"With increased aridification as our new reality, there is an urgency to all of us understanding and acting to ensure that water conservation is a California way of life. These regulations are part of our shared responsibility to address non-essential outdoor water use as our communities experience record-breaking drought and plan for dry conditions into next year," said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the state water board.

The new regulation allows for watering to still occur on turf with a functional purpose or if it is being irrigated with recycled water.

The state board also asked non-residential property owners to work with landscaping professionals to turn off irrigation stations dedicated to decorative turf but continue irrigation of any trees.

"We are nearly halfway through the third year of this unprecedented drought and unfortunately, we are seeing water usage increase, rather than decrease. If we are going to successfully weather this drought, we need all hands-on deck -- residents and businesses alike must do all they can to conserve water," Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor said in a statement.

The local advisory this week came with a reminder that Zone 7 declared an official drought emergency and Stage 2 water shortage emergency last September, and mandated 15% water conservation from all Tri-Valley water service providers. The joint statement was issued by Zone 7, the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore, Cal Water's Livermore Division and Dublin San Ramon Services District.

In light of the state water board's new policy, Tri-Valley water agencies also suggest business property owners consider pursuing landscape options that expend less water, in anticipation of more frequent and severe droughts due to climate change, according to Anthony Smith, city of Livermore interim water resources manager.

"The Tri-Valley's water agencies are encouraging their non-residential property owners to consider replacing their non-functional turf with low-water landscaping during this fall's planting season. Not only will it improve your property's appearance during our current drought, but it will permanently lower your water use," Smith explained.

In support of installing new low-water landscaping, Zone 7 agencies are offering rebates to property owners as partial reimbursement for installation costs.

"We are confident that the business community will step up to meet this new call to action and help our community towards a more sustainable future," Pryor said. "And in return, we are here to support businesses interested in replacing turf with native plants and other low-water-use landscaping with rebate programs and technical expertise."

For the latest information on water conservation, local water use restrictions, and the current drought, visit Residents and businesses are advised to visit their local water supplier website for specific restriction information.