Water Use Efficiency Requirements: Residential

For Tier 1 = Single-Family residential parcels sized less than 10,000 square feet

If the parcel is over 10,000 square feet, please see these water use efficiency requirements.

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?

  1. All new or existing single-family homes on parcels less than 10,000 square feet (Tier 1) requesting new or expanded water service which requires a new meter.
  2. Existing Tier I single-family homes 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.
  3. Single-Family homes that 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.

Note: Single-family residences on parcel equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet are classified as Tier II and must meet more extensive water efficiency requirements.

The SqCWD will consider, and may allow, substituting 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 key indoor and outdoor efficiency requirements are outlined below. The associated Indoor and Outdoor 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.

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

Indoor Requirements

Indoor requirements checklist

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%.
  • An annual water budget must be calculated using a simple formula provided in the Outdoor Efficiency Checklist and usage should not exceed the budget.
  • Low-volume irrigation must be used on all non-turf areas. Learn more about irrigation systems.
  • Overhead irrigation spray heads are not permitted within 24 inches of any non-permeable surface.
  • All irrigation must be designed to avoid runoff and over-spray.
  • 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.