Save Your Water and Save Your Trees
The trees on your property are an important investment, add value to your property, and help cool your home and neighborhood. California ReLeaf has published helpful, accurate guidelines for homeowners, including the Save Our Water and Our Trees website and their drought flyer (pdf).
Emergency water regulations prohibit using potable water for the following activities:
Outdoor watering that lets water run onto sidewalks and other areas
Washing vehicles without an automatic shutoff nozzle
Washing hard surfaces like driveways or sidewalks that don’t absorb water
Filling decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds
Outdoor watering within 48 hours after it rains at least 1/4 inch of rainfall
Homeowners' Associations (HOAs)
The California Water Board published Frequently Asked Questions that provide more information for Homeowners' Associations (HOAs). Property that is owned by the HOA is subject to watering restrictions, but not residences. While an individual’s property is considered residential, property owned and maintained by an HOA is considered the same as landscapes owned and maintained by commercial or institutional entities. Trees can be watered in all areas. Under the current restrictions, non-functional turf cannot be watered on HOA property unless there is a tree in the area watered.
The California Water Board has also published a letter to HOAs outlining how they are affected by the regulations.
Who decides if turf is functional?
An HOA should review areas of turf that it maintains, consult with residents, and determine whether the turf is functional or not. Water suppliers may defer to HOAs' determinations that specific areas of turf are used for recreation or community events. However, water suppliers also retain the authority to enforce the irrigation ban if there is a documented violation.
Can my HOA stop me from conserving water?
No. Homeowners may remove their lawns and replace them with water-wise plants. If you install water-efficient landscaping during the drought, your HOA cannot prevent you from maintaining it or require you to remove it when there is no longer a drought state of emergency. Additionally, your HOA cannot impose a fine or assessment for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns during a drought state of emergency, nor can it prohibit, or include conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of low water-using plants as a group or as a replacement of existing turf.