Water Efficiency Review

Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

Water Efficiency Review/ Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

At the submission of a water service application, Water Conservation staff will perform a Water Efficiency Review to ensure compliance with the California Green Plumbing Code standards and the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) when applicableMWELO is a statewide water conservation regulation for new and rehabilitated developments that promote low-water use landscapes. The implementation and compliance of MWELO and the Water Efficiency Review benefit East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) by securing water supply for long-term planning and growth. 

MWELO  applies for:  

Single-family/multi-family residential, commercial, public, or institutional projects that require a permit, plan check, and/or a new water meter, change in water meter size, or business classification with:

  • Construction of 500 square feet or more of new landscaping (e.g. building a new home on a lot)


  • Rehabilitation/remodeling of landscaping where the total existing landscape is over 2,500 square feet (e.g. constructing a pool and redoing landscaping) 

MWELO resources from other agencies:


What landscaping and irrigation information do you need to submit with your water service application

 Click the tabs below as it applies to your specific project

Applicants must submit:

1. Basic annotated site plan that, at minimum, includes the following: 

  • Property address 
  • Scale bar and north arrow 
  • Property boundaries 
  • Hardscape including structures, roads, driveways, walkways, patios, decks, etc. 
  • New landscaping 
  • Existing landscaping or unmodified open space to remain 
  • Location of all hose bibs 

Highly encouraged for projects with automatic irrigation (not required): 

  • A single point of connection with manual shut-off valve 
  • Backflow prevention device 
  • Sleeves under driveways/sidewalks/patios etc. allowing irrigation to extend to all landscape areas 
  • Weather-based irrigation controller with rain or soil sensor (if using automatic irrigation) 
  • Pressure regulator 

2. Fill out the irrigation tab on the online water service application 

  • If using automatic irrigation, add each irrigation zones to reflect the irrigation zones’ plant types and flow rates if automatic irrigation is being used (example). If irrigation is coming off of a hose or hand watered, leave the irrigation tab blank.

Example of basic site plans

MWELO applies and all applicants must submit: 

1. Planting Plan  

  • Plant legend identifying botanical name and water needs of each species 
  • Location of all plants 
  • Plants grouped by hydrozone (trees should be grouped separately) 
  • Notes requiring a minimum of 4 cubic yards of amendments per 1,000 square feet of landscaping tilled to a depth of six inches 
  • Notes and or details requiring a minimum of 3 inches of mulch on exposed soils 
  • Lawn/turf not to exceed 25% of landscape area or planted on slopes greater than 25% and not planted in areas less than 10 feet across in any dimension if irrigated by overhead spray 

2. Irrigation Plan

  • Smart, weather-based irrigation controller with a rain or soil sensor 
  • Point of connection with a manual shutoff valve 
  • Backflow prevention device 
  • Irrigation mainline and laterals 
  • Remote control valves with flow rate of each zone/valve 
  • Emission devices (drip, bubblers, spray, etc.) 
  • Pressure regulator (if pressure exceeds manufacturer recommendations for emission devices) 
  • Flush valves (if drip zones are installed) 
  • A legend that identifies the make and model of each of the above components 
  • Details for each irrigation component 
  • Flow sensor with master shut off valve (only required for residential landscapes 5,000+ square feet or non-residential landscapes of 500+ square feet) 
  • Private irrigation submeter (only required for residential landscapes 5,000+ square feet or non-residential landscapes 1,000+ square feet) 
  • EBMUD irrigation meter (non-residential landscapes 5,000+ square feet) 

3. Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet (only required for residential landscapes 2,500+ square feet and non-residential landscapes 1,000+ square feet)


4. Fill out the irrigation tab on the online water service application 

  • Fill out the irrigation tab on the online water service application to reflect the zones’ plant types and flow rates (example).
  • If there are multiple meters or controllers in a water service application, fill out separate tables for each.

Example of MWELO compliant landscape and irrigation plans

If you are not installing landscaping, you still need some basic site plans demonstrating this. 

Basic site plans must include:

  • Property address 
  • Scale bar and north arrow 
  • Property boundaries 
  • Hardscape including structures, roads, driveways, walkways, patios, decks, etc. 
  • Existing landscaping or unmodified open space to remain (if applicable) 
  • Location of all hose bibs 

For projects that have existing landscaping and irrigation that are not being modified with the exception of a reduction in area (e.g. building an ADU in the backyard), we need to know if the new unit will be responsible for any irrigation. If the new unit will be irrigating plants, this needs to be indicated on the plans and the irrigation tab. 

Basic site plans must include: 

  • Property address 
  • Scale bar and north arrow 
  • Property boundaries 
  • Hardscape including structures, roads, driveways, walkways, patios, decks, etc. 
  • Existing landscaping or unmodified open space to remain (if applicable) 
  • Location of all hose bibs 

For projects with existing landscaping that is 2,500 square feet or more that will be renovated (e.g. building an ADU in the backyard and redoing all the landscaping), MWELO applies and a complete landscaping and irrigation plans must be submitted. The irrigation tab on the water service application must also be filled out for all new and existing irrigation zones. 

Regardless of water source, applicants need to submit landscaping and irrigation plans that specifically identify well water lines and backflow prevention. If MWELO applies to this project, we still need to confirm compliance of MWELO requirements.

Additionally, you will need to provide:

  • Well flow test: A recent well flow test needs to be submitted to confirm that it can support the demand from the irrigation system. The well flow test must be recent within one year and include four hours of flow at minimum. A well report is always required regardless of age and previous demand on the well. 
  • Proof of no cross-connection of well water and EBMUD water: Backflow prevention devices are required to prevent well water from contaminating EBMUD pipes. Applicants need to confirm that there is no cross-connection on plans by indicating the backflow prevention and separate water lines served by the well and EBMUD. As a follow up, our cross-connect specialists will contact the accountholder after the meter is installed to confirm backflow (double check valve or RP backflow) was installed.   

1. How does the Water Efficiency Review relate to obtaining a water meter? 

EBMUD Water Conservation and New Business Office work together to assess what size meter is required to serve all the water needs at the property. Meter sizing is determined by calculating the flow rates of all indoor fixtures (toilets, faucets, etc.) and outdoor fixtures (hose bibs, sprinklers, etc.). By reviewing what your expected water usage will look like inside the building and outside in the landscaping, EBMUD will accurately size your meter.  

Once the Water Conservation Division completes the Water Efficiency Review, please reach out to your New Business Office Representative for further information regarding your water service application. 

Note: Once the landscaping and irrigation are installed, EBMUD may also coordinate with the project manager or property owner to conduct a site visit to ensure MWELO compliance as needed. 


2. What is considered landscaping? 

Landscape area is defined as planting areas and water features, both at street level and above ground. Landscaping area is not artificial turf, mulch, pathways, hardscape, or other non-irrigated areas designated for non-development (existing native vegetation, open spaces, etc.).   


3. How do I fill out the irrigation tab? 

The irrigation tab is accessed through the water service application. For all new or existing irrigation valves, you must enter information for each individual zone including the gallons per minute flow rate, plant type, hydrozone type, irrigation method, and area in square feet. If you are using more than one controller, they need to be in separate sections. Each controller should have its own section and should be given a designated name ( e.g., main house, A). 


4. What is the Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet and what does it need to include? 

The Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet is a calculation based on plant factor (watering needs), type of irrigation, and hydrozone area (group of plants with similar watering needs on the same irrigation zone). Its purpose is to establish a water budget by calculating a project's Estimated Total Water Use (ETWU) and its Maximum Applied Water Allowance (MAWA).  

The Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet must be submitted with the MWELO documentation package for residential landscape projects 2,500 square feet or more and non-residential landscape projects 1,000 square feet or more.