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State Water Board Readopts Decorative G​​rass Watering Ban on Business and Government Properties

SACRAMENTO – The State Water Resources Control Board has readopted an emergency regulation that bans using drinking water for watering decorative grass (also referred to as non-functional turf) in commercial, industrial and institutional areas throughout the state.

The State Water Board’s readoption of this regulation signals the real need for Californians to continue using water wisely, and it aligns with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 2023 executive order affirming that the multi-year drought continues to have significant, immediate impacts on communities with vulnerable water supplies across California. Although conditions have improved, they have not abated severe drought conditions that remain in some parts of the state, including those with groundwater basins that are depleted.

The regulation bans watering non-functional turf, which generally is mowed grass that is not used for recreational or other community activities, at commercial, industrial and institutional properties. This applies to areas like grass in front of or next to large commercial buildings, and some common areas managed by homeowners’ associations. In addition to not applying to grass used for recreational or other community activities, the ban does not affect or prohibit watering residential lawns or trees. In fact, the state encourages people to keep watering trees because of their many environmental benefits. The ban also does not prohibit using recycled water for irrigating non-functional turf. 

The regulation was initially adopted by the board in May 2022 and went into effect in June 2022. Once approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State, the extension of the ban will go into effect for one additional year. It would have expired in June 2023, if not readopted.

Agencies already authorized to enforce the existing water regulations, like water suppliers and local governments, still are empowered to address violations of the non-functional turf watering regulation. In some areas, similar prohibitions are required by local plans or ordinances.

This regulation will be effective until December 2023.

For more information on this and other statewide water restrictions, go to the State Water Board’s Water Conservation Emergency Regulation page.

Media Release - State Water Board Readopts Decorative Grass Watering Ban.pdfMedia Release FAQ.pdf