Water Use Efficiency Requirements: Commercial

Water Use Efficiency Requirements for Tier 2 Residential, Multi-Family Residential, Commercial, Institutional and Public Development

The Soquel Creek water District requires indoor and outdoor water conservation devices, features and practices in all new development and certain existing development, as a condition for obtaining new or expanded water service. These guidelines are also applicable to certain existing development, receiving continued water service. These water use efficiency requirements are backed by two ordinances: Water Efficiency Landscaping Ordinance 16-03 and Indoor Water Efficiency Ordinance 16-02.

What kind of construction must follow these requirements?

The requirements apply to all new and existing development of the following types that request new or expanded water service:

  • Tier 2 (parcels sized equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet) single-family homes;
  • All multi-family homes (three or more dwelling units); and
  • All commercial, industrial and public development

The requirements also apply to existing development types listed above that:

  • Are required to apply for a building permit, plan check or design review for a bathroom or kitchen remodel, except that the indoor efficiency requirements will only apply to the fixtures normally included in the kitchen and/or bathroom to be remodeled. This is only applicable if not required and enforced by the local land use planning agency.
  •  Are required to rehabilitate or modify their landscape as part of a land use approval/design review process, except that the outdoor efficiency requirements will only apply to the portion of the landscape to be rehabilitated or modified.
  • Have landscapes that are equal to or greater than one acre in size. (Note: These landscapes are only subject to select provisions requiring compliance with a District-issued water budget).
  • New recreation areas including schoolyards, parks, playgrounds, sports fields and golf courses are subject to the outdoor requirements, with the exception of turf area limits, provided that recycled water, graywater and/or rainwater use is implemented where feasible. New community gardens will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine applicable requirements. New residential fruit and/or vegetable gardens are exempt from the high water use plant area limits.

The SqCWD will consider, and may allow, substituting of well-designed alternatives or innovations that may equally reduce water consumption. All written explanations, variances, substitutions, alternatives or innovations must be reviewed and approved by the SqCWD.

What is required and when?

The Water Use Efficiency Checklists provide a complete list of the requirements and are required to be reviewed, signed, and provided back to the District. The responsible party must agree to the requirements as a condition for obtaining new water service, or in the case of existing customers, receiving continued water service.

Indoor efficiency checklist

Outdoor efficiency checklist

It is important to note that several of the below requirements may be more strict than those required by the County and the City of Capitola.

Indoor Requirements 

Indoor requirements checklist

  • Toilets must use 1.28 gallons per flush or less. See WaterSense approved toilets.
  • Urinals must use 0.5 gallons per flush or less. See WaterSense approved urinals
  • Kitchen faucets must use a maximum of 1.8 gallons per minute.
  • All residential bathroom faucets use a maximum or 1.5 gallons per minute, or are WaterSense certified. All non-residential bathroom faucets use a maximum of 0.5 gallons per minute or 0.20 gallons per cycle for metering faucets.
  • Bathroom faucets use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute, or are WaterSense certified.
  • Showerheads use a maximum of 2.0 gallons per minute, or are WaterSense certified.
  • Clothes washing machines are ENERGY STAR certified.
  • Dishwashing machines are ENERGY STAR certified.
  • Separate meters are required for each multi-family residential unit and each non-residential unit. (this has been shown to save water by making the water consumption for each unit known)
  • Requirements also apply to the following types of non-residential equipment: Cooling towers, food steamers, ice machines, pre-rinse spray valves, automatic vehicle wash facilities and commercial refrigeration. Please refer to the Indoor Water Use Efficiency Checklist or the Indoor Ordinance for details.

Outdoor Requirements

Outdoor requirements checklist

  • Turf, moderate to high water use plants and water features (including swimming pools) are limited to no more than 25% of the landscaped area.
  • Turf must be a water conserving species and may not be used in areas less than 10 feet wide or on slopes greater than 12%.
  • Dedicated landscape water meters are required for all multi-family residential, commercial, industrial and public development projects. Private irrigation submeters are recommended for Tier II Single-Family development.
  • An annual water budget must be calculated using a simple formula provided in the Landscape Project Application Package and usage may not exceed the budget.
  • Low-volume irrigation must be used on all non-turf areas.
  • Overhead irrigation spray heads are not permitted within 24 inches of any non-permeable surface.
  • Irrigation systems must meet or exceed an average landscape irrigation efficiency of 75% for spray systems and 81% for drip systems.
  • All irrigation must be designed to avoid runoff and over-spray.
  • Automatic, self-adjusting controllers (i.e., weather or sensor-based) must be used for irrigation scheduling.
  • Sensors that suspend or alter irrigation during unfavorable weather are required on all irrigation systems. (rain sensors)
  • Plants having similar water requirements must be grouped together in hydrozones and irrigated by separate irrigation circuits.
  • Water in decorative pools, ponds, fountains and other water features must be recirculated, and automatic-fill valves may not be used.
  • Covers are required for swimming pools and spas.
  • Soil conditioning must include six cubic yards of organic amendment for each 1,000 square feet of topsoil to help retain soil moisture. Click here for info on getting mulch at the Buena Vista landfill from green waste.
  • Three inches of mulch are required in non-turf areas to minimize evaporation.

For more information call the water conservation department at (831) 475-8501, ext. 156.