If I prevent runoff, I'll have brown spots and my HOA will assess penalties.
We understand that you could receive penalties from your homeowners association if your landscape does not meet their aesthetic standards. However, there are a number of things you can do to have an attractive water-efficient landscape that should pass inspection.
Please check out our Use Water Wisely section for more information on landscape design, plants, irrigation practices, and devices as well as rebates for smart controllers, spray nozzles, and more. Or request a free indoor/outdoor residential water survey to identify water saving options.
Important! The Governor signed AB 2100 into law on July 21, 2014. This law prohibits Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) from fining residents who let their lawns go brown as a result of conserving water. This law is in effect during all formal drought declarations by the Governor. Please note that EMWD is not the governing agency on this matter, however we support all water conservation actions, and this law does not prevent cities or counties from issuing fines.
What if I have drains from my backyard which run into the street?
If you receive a warning letter, please contact our office so we may notate your account.
What do I do about water draining out of my sprinklers after they turn off?
This is called Low Head Drainage. When water flows onto the sidewalk or curb after the sprinklers turn off, but then stops after a few minutes, is due to a phenomena called "low head drainage". This occurs when the sprinkler system is installed on a sloped area. The slope does not need to be very high, a change of elevation of less than a foot will often create low head drainage. After the sprinklers are turned off, the water in the pipes drains out through the lowest sprinkler heads and is replaced with air. Obviously the water that drains out of the pipes is wasted. The spewing and spitting of air every time you turn on the sprinklers also puts a lot of stress on the pipe and sprinklers.
To fix low head drainage you need to have special anti-drain check valves installed at the sprinkler heads. These check valves prevent the water from draining out of the pipes through the lowest sprinklers. In most cases these check valves are built into the sprinkler head. This check-valve option is available on all major brands of sprinklers. The anti-drain check-valve closes and holds the water in the pipes when the sprinkler system is off. These built-in check-valves don't cause any drop in performance of the sprinklers, so they don't have any impact on your sprinkler system design. Most pros simply buy a new head with the check valve feature and replace the old sprinkler with the new one. You can also buy separate check valves that can be installed on the pipe under existing sprinkler heads. Where do you buy sprinklers with check valves or retrofit check valve? Check valves and sprinklers with built-in check valves are often not available at discount stores or big box hardware stores. You will probably need to get them from a local irrigation specialty store or online.
I have a slope, how do I avoid runoff?
Lawns on slopes tend to develop dry dead spots during the hot part of the season. This is primarily due to water running off the lawn before it has a chance to saturate. Deep saturation is a key to a healthy lawn. Water that runs off or just barely breaks the surface, does the lawn very little good. So how do you give a lawn on a slope better saturation?
Use the Cycle & Soak Method: Split the water cycle duration into two or three short cycles. If your water cycle is 10 minutes, you might split the cycle into three, 3 minute cycles. To determine the exact amount of time needed, turn on the lawn sprinkler and watch for how long it takes for runoff to begin. This is how long each cycle should run. So on watering days, you'll run the system for the specified amount of time, let it soak for a few hours, then repeat this for the number of times needed.
Landscaping and plants on a hillside will also benefit from this cycle and soak method. Plants should be planted in larger holes filled with good soil that absorbs water easily. Also, dams and water wells should be built on the downhill side of the plant. This will help give the water time to soak straight down to the root zone before it runs off.
What is considered runoff?
The result of water runoff may occur from a soggy lawn, runoff of water into streets, and/or obvious signs of systematic water waste.
Are we able to report a neighbor who is wasting water?
Yes, the following information would be required: exact street address of where the water waste is occurring, a photo (if possible), your name and phone number. Your contact information is for staff use only. This information can be entered into our online form or emailed to email@example.com.