San Diego County seeks commercial applicants for WaterSmart Landscape Efficiency Program

By on February 17, 2018
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San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) knows that its commercial landscape efficiency program works and has opened the application process seeking some 20 commercial-scale landscapes for participation in the most recent iteration of the program.

“We are looking for places to showcase significant water savings without compromising landscape quality by employing best practices for irrigation management and top-tier technology,” said Carlos Michelon, principal water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “This program is one of many ways the Water Authority continues to promote long-term water-use efficiency.”

The WaterSmart Landscape Efficiency Program requires the joint participation of each site’s property owners and landscape maintenance contractors. Landscape contractors receive training, assistance, and performance-based financial incentives for documented water savings while site owners receive water-saving devices and the long-term benefits of lower water use.

Project sites are typically about four irrigated acres. Some have been a portion of a larger property and they must be on dedicated potable water meters. Previous participating sites have included parks, apartments, schools and homeowner association common areas.

The program has demonstrated significant outdoor water-use reductions through a combination of training, hardware upgrades and technical assistance valued at more than $15,000 per site. In two previous rounds of the landscape efficiency program, water savings topped 30 percent, exceeding the target of 20 percent.

Each commercial site chosen to participate in the program is provided with a water management target that will be tracked for a year. Program benefits include leak detection and repair, irrigation system pressure regulation, improvements in distribution uniformity of irrigation water, and the installation of flow sensors and weather-based irrigation controllers. However, participants are responsible for hardware installation, landscape maintenance and other contract conditions.

The SDCWA will select the applicants that best fit the program’s technical requirements and are most likely to meet the program’s demanding implementation schedule from the pool of interested parties. Promising sites not selected for the program’s current round may be eligible for future rounds, depending on funding. The program is currently funded primarily through a Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management grant from the California Department of Water Resources. The application form can be found at:

SDCWA also offers free training to landscape professionals through the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper program. That program – QWEL — provides 20 hours of training on the latest water-efficiency principles and the opportunity to earn a QWEL certificate. Information about QWEL is at: