Water Efficiency Compliance

Welcome to the Outdoor Water Efficiency Compliance Page

Palo Alto is committed to water-efficient landscape standards for new construction and rehabilitated landscape projects. This page contains compliance requirements for residential and non-residential projects both in written format and in the on-demand resource video below.

The Updated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance reflects aggressive water-use requirements for landscaping projects. The City of Palo Alto adopted the State's Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance on February 1, 2016. This regulation represents an updated version of the 2010 Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. The enforcement of this ordinance is in response to Governor Jerry Brown's Executive Order B-29-15, issued April 1, 2015, regarding California's Drought Emergency.

Video Training

The following video training contains a summary of the content found within the Water Efficient Ordinance Triggers section of this page. For "Full Screen" viewing, click the individual video header to open in a new window within YouTube. Once in YouTube, click the "Full Screen" button at the bottom right hand corner of the viewer. If you have trouble viewing the video, please visit the YouTube help webpage.

Outdoor Water Efficiency Triggers

Please use the Outdoor Water Efficiency Plan Review Worksheet to determine if a landscape permit is required for your project. If the trigger applies, submit the landscape documentation in accordance with the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance Submittal Guidelines.

Compliance Process

1. Complete all instruction requirements found in the MWELO Submittal Guidelines document
2. Submit all requirements found in the Landscape Documentation Package Checklist with a permit application. There are two pathways for compliance:

Water Budget Compliance Pathway

  • Project Information Worksheet/ Certificate of Completion
  • Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet
  • Soils Report
  • Landscape Design Plan
  • Irrigation Design Plan
  • Grading Design Plan
  • Dedicated Irrigation Meter

Prescriptive Compliance Pathway- Appendix D

  • Project Information Worksheet
  • Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet 
  • Landscape Design Plan
  • Dedicated Irrigation Meter 

Inspection Process

The inspection requirements are the same for the Water Budget Compliance Pathway and the Prescriptive Compliance Pathway Appendix D.

1. Call 650-329-2496 to schedule a Landscape Inspection.
2. Follow the Water Efficient Landscape Inspection Checklist in theMWELO Compliance Submittal Guidelines document.
3. Projects must submit a copy of the "Certificate of Installation" and submit all required documents shown on the certificate to the project owner.

Compliance Documents

Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
MWELO Compliance Submittal Guidelines
GB-2 Residential Outdoor Water Use Calculations
GB-2 Non- Residential Outdoor Water Use Calculations
Permitted Practices in California

For more information regarding the project submittal procedures, please visit the Development Services webpage. For additional background information regarding the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance visit the Department of Water Resources page. To learn more about outdoor water efficiency, rebates and workshops, visit the Utilities- Landscape Requirements page.