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Water Rules

Bon Tempe
State Releases New Water Regulations Restricting Irrigation of Decorative Lawns in Commercial/Municipal Areas 
(updated June 10, 2022)

On May 24, in response to three consecutive dry years across much of California, State Water Board regulators voted to expand state-wide drought restrictions, including a ban on watering decorative lawns which is applicable to some Marin Water commercial and municipal customers. The new State rule, which became effective June 10, 2022, applies as follows: 

  • Irrigation of purely decorative lawns in commercial, institutional, and industrial sites is prohibited. Decorative lawns in common area landscapes of homeowners associations are also included in this water-use restriction. 
    • This rule does NOT apply to residential lawns or to lawns actively used for recreation sports, events or other civic purposes. 
    • The new emergency rule, adopted pursuant to State Water Code section 1058.5, will remain in effect for one year, unless lifted earlier, or extended by the Board.

For further information on the rule, including the State Water Board’s exemptions and frequently asked questions, review the State Water Board's Frequently Asked QuestionsCustomers may also access helpful WaterSmart landscaping resources on Marin Water’s website at marinwater.org/WaterSmartGardening.

Ongoing Marin Water Rules 

The District has ongoing water rules in place, designed to eliminate water waste throughout Marin, year-round. These rules apply to customers within the District’s service area, which covers central and southern Marin. If you receive your water bill from a different agency, please check with that agency regarding any applicable water use rules. 

The following ongoing water rules are in effect:  

  • Customers must fix leaks within 48 hours of discovery. 
  • Sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, or any other hard surfaced areas shall not be washed with a hose. 
  • All garden hoses must have shut-off nozzles. 
  • Non-recirculating decorative water fountains shall not be refilled or topped-off. 
  • Customers shall prevent irrigation system overspray or runoff. 
  • Customers shall prevent excess water runoff from flowing onto the public right-of-way.  
  • Irrigation is not permitted between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. 
  • Customers may water landscapes or gardens with overhead sprinkler irrigation systems up to twice a week (please note: watering days are not assigned). 
  • Customers may water landscapes or gardens with drip irrigation systems up to three times a week (please note: watering days are not assigned). 
  • Potable water shall not be used for irrigating during and within 48 hours after rainfall.  
  • Turf located in public street medians shall not be watered. 
  • All recreational pools and spas shall have covers to reduce evaporation.  
  • Non-recirculating systems for conveyer carwashes and single pass cooling systems are prohibited for new connections. 
  • Reverse osmosis water purifying systems must be installed with an automatic shutoff unit
  • Sewer cleaning/flushing should be done using recycled water when available without having hauling by truck and whenever reasonably possible.

Education and Enforcement of Rules

The district focuses primarily on education to help the community eliminate water waste and relies on customers to follow the rules. However, not following the water use rules listed above may result in a written warning. The second violation may result in a $25 fine, and any subsequent violations may result in a $250 fine.

Reporting Water Waste

Have you observed water being wasted, such as irrigation water running down the street, broken or misdirected sprinklers watering pavement or watering in the middle of the day? Marin residents may report water waste by: 

  • Watering lawns or landscaping more than three times per week
  • Watering lawns or landscaping while it is raining, and within 48 hours of rainfall
  • Watering between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., except for system testing and repair
  • Using a hose without a shutoff nozzle 
  • Hosing down sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, and other hard-surfaced areas
  • Water leaks within the customer’s plumbing or private distribution systems that are not repaired within 48 hours of discovery or notification from the district, whichever occurs first
  • Irrigation systems that over-water, or overspray the areas being watered to the point where water is collecting and/or creating runoff
  • The use of non-recirculating decorative water fountains
  • Any excess water runoff flowing onto the public right of way at a rate of one gallon per minute or greater, with the exception of stormwater and naturally occurring groundwater.

Note: Many of the water shortage emergency prohibitions were removed, including the prohibition on pressure washing. The State has a drought restriction on washing buildings, hardscapes and other surfaces with a hose. We ask that you comply with the state regulation to the greatest extent possible -- a variance is not required by Marin Water.

Requesting a Variance

The District may grant exemptions or variances due to hardship, emergency conditions affecting health and safety, or to pursue an alternative means of compliance. For more information, call 415.945.1520. To request a variance, please send a detailed email, explaining the reason(s) you are requesting a variance, to variance@marinwater.org.