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Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO)


Drought tolerant plants

What is the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO)?

MWELO is the statewide water efficiency law in California, regulates water usage in new and renovated landscapes. It imposes restrictions on high water-consuming plants and irrigation systems while promoting a comprehensive approach to landscaping that integrates alternative water sources such as gray water, harvested rainwater, and recycled water.

Why is MWELO needed?

Traditional landscapes often incorporate plants and irrigation that waste water; contribute to polluted water runoff into streams, lakes and the ocean; overspray causing water damage to buildings, fences, and streets; and create a lot of plant and trimming green waste.

Water-efficient landscapes can be both aesthetically pleasing and practical. Studies have demonstrated that adhering to MWELO guidelines can reduce water consumption by 80%. Additionally, these landscapes require 60% less maintenance and produce 50% less yard waste

To comply with MWELO your landscape does not need to be full of rocks and cacti. MWELO encourages using a variety of plants, including native, climate-appropriate plants. Limited-size lawns and non-adapted plants can also be planted.

Who needs to comply?

Any single-family or multi-family residential, public, institutional, or commercial project that requires a permit, plan review, or check from the local review agency AND meets one of these size thresholds needs to comply:

  1. New construction project with a total landscape area* greater than 500 sq. ft.
  2. Rehabilitation of existing landscape with a total landscape area* greater than 2,500 sq.ft.

* Total landscape area includes swimming pools, fountains, and other water features.

What is the Submittal, review, and approval process?

Projects that meet the criteria above must comply with the City's Construction, Development and Land Use Ordinance (which adopts the California MWELO Ordinance.  In order to achieve this, the following steps must be completed:


  • Submitting your application

Performance Landscape Projects prior to construction, new construction projects 500 sq. ft. or larger or rehabilitated landscapes 2,500 sq. ft. or larger should submit: 

Prescriptive Landscape Projects
Prior to construction, rehabilitated projects between 500 sq. ft. and 2,500 sq. ft. should submit:

  • Constructing your project

Once the project receives approval, the next step is to construct the landscape based on the approved plans. During this phase, it is crucial to ensure that the necessary inspections are conducted specifically for irrigation and landscape installations. Following these procedures ensures that the landscape meets the required standards.


  • Completing your project

Performance Landscape Projects 

Once the project is completed, submit the following documents to the City

Prescriptive Landscape Projects

Once the project is completed, submit the following documents to the City

Additional MWELO Resources
Questions? Contact us!

Please contact us for guidance if you have any questions regarding the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO). We are here to assist you and provide the necessary support. 

Phone: (925) 973-2670

Email: SRE[email protected]