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On July 15, 2015, the State of California updated its Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, commonly referred to as MWELO. This ordinance aims to advance the use of ecologically friendly and sustainable landscaping practices, by promoting projects that minimize water resource consumption. The MWELO has set forth standards for the designing, planning, and implementation of new landscaping projects that integrate water conservation measures.
What is MWELO?
- Almost all new projects and developments, especially pertaining to those of a residential or commercial nature
- New projects with over 500 sq. ft. of landscaping
- Rehabilitated / updated projects involving 2500+ sq. ft. of landscaping
- Cemeteries, which fall under special guidelines
- Land under jurisdiction of Sections 493, 493.1, and 493.2
- Projects over one acre in size, created prior to December 1, 2015
- Does not apply to
- Registered state / local / federal historic sites
- Ecological restoration sites not requiring a permanent irrigation system
- Mined-land reclamation sites not requiring a permanent irrigation system
- Arboretums, botanical plant collections, etc.
- Rehabilitated projects under 2500 sq. ft., that do not require a permit
What is Appendix D?
- Short-list which can be applied to any projects, new or rehabilitated, under 2500 sq. ft.
- Intended to ease the process for homeowners and small commercial projects
- Explains how to pass the prescriptive compliance approach – performative is much more robus
When Does MWELO Apply?
MWELO becomes applicable on any landscaping project that exceeds 500 square feet, and that requires a permit check or design review. Walkways, patios, driveways, or other impervious structures are not accounted in the project size, nor are non-developed open spaces or native vegetation corridors. For figuring out which portions of your project go into the square footage evaluation, or evaluating the size of your project, refer to the handout below.
Prescriptive Compliance Approach
When a new or rehabilitated landscape project involves 2500 square feet or less of gross landscaping area, the Prescriptive Compliance Approach may be followed. This aims to simplify the process, and provides a checklist of standards that must be observed. Total turf area, mulch and compost application, plant water use and irrigation system requirements must all be applied, with metrics varying slightly between residential or commercial projects.
Performance Compliance Approach
All projects subject to MWELO may follow the Performance Compliance Approach, and landscaping projects above 2500 square feet must follow it. The Performance Compliance Approach is more robust, including additional standards that must be adhered to. This includes the calculation of other water conservation metrics, alongside landscape and irrigation design plans. Please refer to the documents below when inquiring into the Performance Compliance Approach.
For any further questions, call the Woodland Community Development Department at (530) 661-5820 to speak with one of our professional planners.
- Landscape Certification Form
- MWELO Information Handout
- MWELO Performance Approach
- MWELO Prescriptive Approach
- MWELO Project information
- MWELO Worksheet Example
- MWELO Worksheet
- MWELO Certificate of Completion