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Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (WELO)

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Aligned with a series of actions targeting increased water conservation across our drought-laden state, the Department of Water Resources recently updated its Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, which applies to communities across California. This action was driven by Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-29-15 to improve the existing Model Ordinance and further promote efficient landscapes in new developments and across retrofitted properties. The updated Model Ordinance has been in effect since December 1, 2015. A local jurisdiction may adopt its own ordinance as long as it complies with, or is more stringent than, the State ordinance. 

The City updated its local ordinance to conform to the new State requirements while maintaining a streamlined approval process. The updated local ordinance are reflected in the City’s Landscaping Ordinance found in Chapter 14.15 of the Cupertino Municipal Code.

What landscapes are subject to the ordinance?

New development projects that include landscape areas of 500 sq. ft. or more are subject to the Ordinance. This applies to residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects that require a permit, plan check or design review.

Will this ordinance help conserve water? 

The newly adopted ordinance is expected to reduce the water use of a new home by 12,000 gallons a year, or 20 percent. Water use on new commercial landscapes will be cut by approximately 35 percent. This is just one of the many actions our state and City are taking to work to conserve water. To learn about the actions the state has taken to manage our water systems and cope with the drought’s impacts, visit