All buildings in the unincorporated County area and the City of Capitola receiving water from Soquel Creek Water District must be retrofitted with high efficiency plumbing fixtures at the time of sale of the property.
- Toilets have to be 1.6 gallons per flush or less
- Showerheads must have a flow of 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm) or less (Most existing are 2.5 gpm)
The seller of the property is responsible for the following:
- Replacing any toilets, showerheads and urinals that don’t meet the high efficiency plumbing standards below. (Pre-existing toilets that flush no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) toilets are exempt.)
- Obtaining a Water Conservation Certificate from Soquel Creek Water District and
- Disclosing retrofit requirements to the buyer of the property, before the property changes ownership and filling out a Transfer of Responsibility to Retrofit form if retrofits will be done by the buyer.
Copies of the written disclosure form and the Water Conservation Certificate are to be included with documents transferring title to the property.
- There is no exemption for hand-held showerheads or expensive ones
- Soquel Creek Water District does not replace showerheads
- Allow up to 5 business days for an inspection.
Links to County and Capitola City Code:
High Efficiency Plumbing Standards
Plumbing fixtures must be EPA WaterSense approved and manufactured to meet the standards below. Urinals that use no water are not tested by EPA WaterSense, but are approved for retrofits. Restrictors and other modifications to fixtures are not acceptable. Pre-existing toilets that flush no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) toilets are exempt.
- Toilets must be 1.28 gallons per flush or less,
- Showerheads: 2.0 gallons per minute or less,
- Urinals: 0.5 gallon per flush or less
Verification and Certification
Prior to the time of sale, the Seller must verify compliance by one of the following methods:
- physical inspection of the building by District staff, or a licensed plumbing or building contractor
- provide documentation of retrofit from the District’s toilet rebate program, or
- documentation that all structures on the property were constructed or renovated in 1994 or later.
The District issues a water conservation certificate to the Seller once compliance has been verified. Please allow 5 business days for District staff to verify compliance and issue a conservation certificate. Seller must provide Buyer with a copy of the water conservation certificate or written proof that the installation of devices is not required because of the specific exemption(s) allowed under this law. If a plumber or contractor does the inspection please turn in both pages of the form or it is not valid
Option to Transfer Responsibility for Retrofitting to the Buyer
The Seller and Buyer may mutually agree to transfer responsibility for retrofitting to the Buyer. The Seller is required to submit a Transfer of Responsibility form, approved by the Buyer, to the Soquel Creek Water District Water Conservation Department before the property is sold. The Buyer has ninety (90) calendar days from the date of the sale of the property to perform the retrofit and verify compliance.
An exemption from these requirements may be granted if:
- The building drainage system or public sewer, or both, are incompatible with high efficiency toilet specifications and require a greater quantity of water to flush the system in a manner that is consistent with public health. Sufficient evidence must be submitted to substantiate any exemption.
- Properties recognized by a federal, state or local historic registry are exempt from retrofit when authentic plumbing fixtures are present and they cannot be replaced by matching high efficiency fixtures.
Failure to Comply
If the seller fails to comply with the retrofit requirements, the buyer shall install the high efficiency plumbing fixtures within 90 days from the date of sale. Failing to obtain a Conservation Certificate may result in a notice of violation being recorded against the property; this infraction of code is punishable in accordance with the provisions of Section 1.12.040 of the Santa Cruz County Code and Capitola Municipal Code 4.04.010.
- Disclosure Form Regarding Plumbing Fixture Retrofit Regulations (Fillable PDF)
- Transfer of Responsibility to Retrofit Form
- Water Conservation Certificate Forms in triplicate are available from Soquel Creek Water District's Water Conservation Department, 5180 Soquel Drive, Soquel or your real estate agent. Questions: 475-8501 ext. 146.
If you are a Realtor, they are available at the Soquel office of the Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS® at 2525 Main Street, Soquel.
Properties outside Soquel Creek Water District
- Unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County outside of Soquel Creek Water District: Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Department's Water Conservation Page
- The City of Santa Cruz Water System: Plumbing Fixture Retrofit Regulations