The Irrigation Association submitted comments last week on California’s updated model landscape ordinance. The California Department of Water Resources was charged with updating the existing Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance in Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1, 2015, executive order on the drought emergency. The public draft of the updated MWELO was released on June 12, 2015, and many of the proposed changes would directly affect the irrigation industry.

Over the past few months, IA has been actively working with DWR to ensure maximum input from the irrigation industry. Through webinars, public forums and official comments, the industry has come together to promote efficient technologies and services as important components of any changes made to the model ordinance.

The landscape irrigation industry is big business in California, and couldn’t be a complete shutdown or regulated with impossible goals for water use, it has been noted in all communications.

“Through continued research and development, manufacturing, testing and use, we are confident that effective irrigation technologies and management play essential roles in both long-term and short-term solutions to California’s water crisis. Our comments reflect the best ways to embrace these efficient practices to conserve water, while maximizing the benefits of California’s landscapes,” said IA Chief Executive Officer Deborah Hamlin in her comments to DWR.

The association agrees with DWR’s goal to prohibit any runoff and overspray in the landscape but does not believe that the MWELO should include a precipitation rate requirement for irrigation emitters. Limiting precipitation rate will have no effect on overspray or runoff if the system is not designed and installed correctly. IA’s comments recommended using the precipitation rate to develop the correct run time for proper irrigation scheduling and management.

IA also challenged the proposed increase to “irrigation efficiency” and decrease in the evapotranspiration adjustment factor. Irrigation efficiency is a crucial component to water conservation but the levels stated in the draft are not achievable. IA recommended that the irrigation efficiency requirement align with recommendations in the American Society of Irrigation Consultants and Irrigation Association landscape irrigation best management practices released in May 2014. Additionally, IA questioned the change to the ET adjustment factor and recommended better options to achieve water savings through irrigation water measurement and enforcement of ETAF levels in the current ordinance.

IA’s full comments to DWR can be found here. The final MWELO will be released soon after DWR reviews all public comments. In the meantime, Californians should continue to work proactively with local water agencies as they address the drought emergency.