Water Efficient Landscape Standards

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On April 1, 2015, in response to the ongoing drought, the Governor issued Executive Order B-29-15 which called for revising the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO), which was originally adopted by the Town in September 2013, to increase water efficiency standards for new and retrofitted landscapes through more efficient irrigation systems, onsite storm water capture, and by limiting the portion of landscape that can be covered in turf. It also requires reporting on the implementation and enforcement of local ordinance. The MWELO’s major change is requiring that the ordinance also applies to single-family residential projects. 

Staff reviewed the Town’s 2013 adopted Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (Development Code Section 18.40.060) for compliance with the revised MWELO and incorporated the following modifications for compliance:

  • Included prescriptive requirements for projects with 500 square feet, but less than 2,500 square feet, including homeowner-provided landscaping;
  • Exempted projects with less than 500 square feet of landscape area;
  • Included reference to Worksheet C which provides  prescriptive requirements, which would be adopted as a separate resolution by Town Council;
  • Updated the calculation worksheet to meet the requirements of the MWELO (Worksheet A – Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet);
  • Updated Worksheet B – Certificate of Compliance; and
  • Required soils reports for projects with greater than 2,500 square feet of landscaping;
  • Included specifics on compost and mulch in addition to other new details added within the MWELO. 

The Town Council adopted the updated ordinance on September 13, 2016, which went into effect on October 14, 2016 (Ordinance 2016-06).

For projects that require land use approvals separate from a building permit, reference Development Code Section 18.40.060 (Water Efficient Landscape Standards for Larger Projects) for a list of required documentation, including requirements for landscape design plan, irrigation design plan, soils report, and irrigation and maintenance schedule.

With the updated Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, residential projects that are not proposing any landscaping are required to sign and submit an exemption form; residential projects with less than 500 square feet of landscaping are required to submit an exemption form and a landscape plan for documentation. Projects with more than 500 square feet but less than 2,500 square feet of landscaping may use the prescriptive approach which requires applicants to fill out Worksheet C and identify specifications on landscape plans. Projects with more than 2,500 square feet of landscaping are required to meet performance requirements outlined within the Development Code. 

In order to determine what tier a project falls into, please refer to the definition for "landscape area": All the planting areas, turf areas, and water features in a landscape design plan subject to the Maximum Applied Water Allowance calculation. The landscape area does not include footprints of buildings or structures, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, decks, patios, gravel or stone walks, other pervious or non-pervious hardscapes, and other non-irrigated areas designated for non-development (e.g., open spaces and existing native vegetation). All disturbed areas on the site shall be included in the landscape area calculation. To calculate the landscape area, first calculate the total square footage for all disturbed areas on the site and then subtract any square footage within those areas for building footprints and impervious surfaces (walkways, driveways, etc.). The difference shall be the landscape area square footage.

For projects that are not proposing landscaping, including single-family residential homes:

  • Indicate on the site plan: “This project does not include landscaping. I am aware that future landscape installations may be required to comply with the Town of Truckee Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance requirements (Development Code Section 18.40.060).”

For projects with less than 500 square feet of landscaping:

  •  Submit a Landscape Plan identifying locations and types of all plantings, turf/lawn, water features, etc.
  • Note on the plans:  “This project includes landscaping less than 500 square feet. I am aware that future landscape installations may be required to comply with the Town of Truckee Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance requirements (Development Code Section 18.40.060).

For projects with 75% or more of low water use plants and 500 square feet or more of landscaping,  but less than 2,500 square feet of landscaping, use the Prescriptive Approach described in Worksheet C:

  • Submit a Landscape Plan identifying locations and types of all plantings, turf/lawn, water features, etc.
  • Note on the plans: This project will incorporate more than 500 square feet of landscaping but less than 2,500 square feet of landscaping and the prescriptive approach identified in the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance Worksheet C shall be used.”
  • For projects that do not follow the Prescriptive Approach, follow the Performance Approach outlined under the “Projects with 2,500 square feet or more of landscaping” bullet point below.

For projects with 2,500 s.f. or more of landscaping, or smaller projects that would like more flexibility in plant types (less than 75% low water use plants( the Performance Approach, identified in Development Code Section 18.42.060 (Water Efficient Landscape Standards for Larger Projects), shall be used:

  • Prior to building permit issuance:
  • Submit a Landscape Plan identifying hydrozones and locations and types of all plantings, turf/lawn, water features, etc.
  • Submit an Irrigation Design Plan showing components of irrigation system including location, types, size, including automatic controllers, valves, sprinkler heads, etc.
  • For single-family residential projects: Note the following on the landscape plan: "This project includes 2,500 s.f. or more of landscaping. The  Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance Performance Approach will be used for this project. An irrigation schedule, maintenance schedule, and Certificate of Compliance (Worksheet B) shall be submitted to the owner prior to completion of the project."
  • Prior to building permit final:
  • Submit an Irrigation Schedule including plant establishment schedules, irrigation run times, intervals, frequency, etc.
  • Submit a Maintenance Schedule including routine inspections, winterization measures, replenishing mulch, fertilizing, pruning, and weeding.
  • For single-family residential projects: Submit these documents (Certificate of Compliance, Irrigation Schedule, and Maintenance Schedule) to the owner.

For more information, contact the Planning Division at 530-582-7820, ext. 2.

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