Drought Irrigation Restriction Management

Updated April 18, 2023

For more than 10 years, the State of California, The City of Lake Forest, and IRWD, have been urging homeowners and HOAs to improve their water conservation habits. IRWD has offered classes and rebates to help learn about and finance landscape changes to help with water conservation. And, several local water districts have joined efforts in creating the H2O for HOAs awareness program.

On July 21, 2022 we were informed that our HOA must comply with the California State “Second Water Conservation Emergency Regulation of 2022 (May/June 2022)”.

On March 20, 2023, the California Water Board announced the next step in creating a long-term rule making framework to comply with the 2018 Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606. These California Statutes address “Making Conservation a California Way of Life“. This is expanding on changes already in effect and the result of State legislation.

In short, we must immediately stop irrigating non-functional turf (ornamental-only turf) with potable water. This mandate is in effect for a year. The Landscape Committee is working closely with IRWD, our HOA Board, and Harvest Landscape, and others, to comply with this mandate.

The Landscape Committee is working on near zero-cost turf removal projects with our soon-to-be-dead turf as priority areas.

Course of Action

July 28, 2022 – The Board directed the Landscape Committee to work with IRWD and Harvest to comply with the state mandate, and to keep the Board appraised of the actions being taken, the progress being made, and any issues.

November 11, 2022 – We have complied by turning off the irrigation to approximately 4.5 acres of property and posted signs that drought restrictions are in place. Much of this area contains trees that will be irrigated every 2 weeks to protect the trees. All of this turf is expected to die in the near future, but with rain and irrigating the trees, we hope it will last long enough to apply for rebates to upgrade these areas to non-turf plants. Currently, this represents about $1.1M in rebates to be used for turf and sprinkler replacement. Turf replacement rebates only apply to grass (living and dead), not to dirt that was once grass.

December 2, 2022 – We have also identified approximately 9.5 acres of erosion control turf. We claim that this is functional turf but this claim is controversial. It is likely that this turf will eventually require replacing with non-turf erosion solutions. At current rates, this represents about $3.4M in rebates to be used for turf and sprinkler replacement.

April, 2023 – The Serrano Park Board of Directors approved its first ever turf replacement project to be fully financed by available rebate funds. This is expected to be the beginning of several such projects to replace the turf we are no longer allowed to irrigate.

Exempt Areas

  • Areas not irrigated with potable water.
    • Sombra Park (across from the Clubhouse) and a small portion of the Paseo Sombra Street Trees.
    • Trabuco from Paseo Sombra to the church.
    • Trabuco from Paseo Tranquilo to Via del Rio
    • Sendero Channel
  • Non-turf areas
    • All embankments and other areas devoid of turf
  • Recreational turf areas
    • Center oval area in Abeto Park
  • Erosion control turf (This turf exemption is being debated.)
    • Most of Cipres Channel, except elevated flat areas
    • Much of the Main Green Belt, except elevated flat areas. All of the area near the Clubhouse

Areas that Must Comply

  • Areas with turf to be adjusted for tree health.
    • Trees irrigation is exempt. Therefore sprinklers will be adjusted to irrigate only within the drip-line of trees. The control of these sprinklers will be adjusted to occasionally deep water these trees. This irrigation plan is actually healthier for the trees but the turf under them will likely die. We are following the advise of Great Scott on the irrigation requirements of our trees.
  • Areas that are clearly ornamental
    • In these areas, the sprinkler head will be turned off. The valve will be shut off if no sprinklers in this zone irrigate trees.