Paragon Pools
Paragon Pools

In addition to water restrictions imposed by municipalities, California outdoor contractors also may be affected by a recently revised statewide ordinance.

The Model Water Landscape Ordinance imposes water efficiency standards on various types of properties. For instance, it would severely restrict the use of lawn and other more water-consuming plants in new commercial and public developments, and essentially eliminate turf on street medians.

On the residential level, it affects certain yards, stipulating that only 25 percent of their landscape space can be occupied by turf and other elements considered to use large amounts of water.

Before, MWELO applied only to properties with more than 2,500 square feet of landscape area when installed by a developer, or 5,000 square feet when contracted or put in by the homeowner. The new version would make it applicable to more homes — those with more than 500 square feet for new construction, 2,500 square feet for renovation. For existing properties, it would apply when a building or landscape permit, plan check or design review is required.

For now, MWELO serves as an emergency code, remaining in effect only 180 days. But for the next couple months, the California Building Standards Commission is working to turn it into a permanent statewide regulation.

The California Pool and Spa Association considers the language to be somewhat vague, saying it isn't clear if the measure will affect pools. The fear is that homeowners may have to choose between lawns and pools, since the code currently doesn't clarify whether turf and water elements could each occupy 25 percent of a yard, or if they would have to do it combined.

The California Building Standards Commission is taking public comments until Oct. 26, 2015.