We should all be aware by now that the weather patterns are changing. We are seeing record wet years cycled with record drought years in a pattern now referred to as weather whiplash. Our area also continues to add new homes. To plan for the future needs of the State, California has been setting water conservation rules and goals to be implemented by water districts and cities. The City of Lake Forest has been imposing additional goals as well. An HOA is responsible for managing shared irrigated property and must address the needed changes to meet the future water use requirements.
The Serrano Park Landscape Committee recognizes the need to:
- Change much of our turf to lower water use plants according to State and local guidelines.
- Change from sprinklers to drip and other more efficient irrigation systems where possible.
- Improve irrigation efficiencies by improving controller programming and weather tracking systems.
- Reduce water waste by installing main shutoff valves and flow monitoring sensors.
- Reduce community water waste by educating homeowners about their own practices.
- Reduce water requirements by improving soil water retention and bio-activity.
- Improve rain water capture in new landscape projects.
- Utilize available rebate programs to fund most of these changes when possible.
These changes take good planning, patience, and unwavering dedication to long-term goals, items HOAs are not famous for. But failure will result in severely declining landscape, greatly increased community costs, and ultimately in large assessments.
State Water Conservation Rules
California has passed legislation to establish urban water use standards. Early versions of this were to establish goals and to urge compliance that did not carry much enforcement effort. Later versions have stricter compliance requirements with penalties for non-compliance. In 2022, the Governor established mandates with stricter requirements and penalties. In March of 2023, the California Water Board is establishing strict rules and penalties to “Make Conservation a Way of Life”. These rules establish a greatly reduced water use of potable water by 2030, beginning with restrictions on CII (Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional) properties with DIMs (Dedicated Irrigation Meters). Serrano Park Community Association with 15 DIMs is squarely in the target crosshairs for these new rules.
Lake Forest City Goals
The Environmental Impact Report for the city’s 2040 plan, relies on all potable water usage in the city for landscape irrigation to be reduced to less than 10% of the total potable water usage. This includes homeowners as well as HOAs.
Penalties are increasing for non-compliance which include fines along with rate and tier level changes in the water bills.
Incentives and rebates are currently available and have been for several years. Contributions to these funds come from several sources, but primarily by California state and various water districts. If used wisely, these current rebates can completely fund these landscape upgrade projects. If the rebate funds get used up then the HOAs will have to foot the entire cost.
- H2O for HOAs
- An annual water forum designed to inform and educate homeowner associations, property managers, and landscape contractors, about water efficient practices, water-runoff regulations, cost-effective water management strategies, and available rebate programs.
- State letter to HOAs
- State Water Conservation Portal
- Rulemaking to Make Conservation a Way of Life
- Urban Water Use Efficiency Standards, California
- IRWD, Commercial Landscape Restrictions
- IRWD, Drought
- Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance and Environmental Impact Report for 2020 General Plan
- The EIR includes an extreme reduction in the use of potable water to less than 10% for urban irrigation by 2040. This includes ALL HOAs and homeowners.
- The Water Efficiency Landscape Ordnance, Water Use Standards, applies to all landscaped areas, not just new projects.