Large Landscapes & HOAs

Santa Margarita Water District is committed to providing our large landscape customers the resources, tools, and incentives they need to efficiently manage water and maintain healthy aesthetic landscapes.

Thank you all who joined!

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Legislation Update!

What you need to know:


Friday, June 10, 2022 a new statewide emergency water conservation regulation that bans using potable (drinkable) water on decorative or non-functional grass at commercial, industrial, HOA communities, and institutional properties. Non-functional turf is defined as ornamental grass that is mowed and not used for recreational purposes. This ban does not include grass areas irrigated with recycled water. Additionally, it does not include grass areas used for human recreation or community events and watering residential grass or watering trees. Reported infractions are subject to a fine of up to $500. 


DAVIS-STIRLING ACT: Prohibitions on Low Water-using Plant; Artificial Turf (LINK)

Civil Code section 4735(c) for HOA's: 

An HOA governing document or architectural landscape guideline shall not prohibit homeowners from:

  1. Using low water-use plants to replace turf grass
  2. Installing artificial turf grass



Incentives & Programs

Irrigation Rebates: The SoCal WaterSmart regional rebate program is available to SMWD customers, courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Free Landscape Irrigation Surveys: A certified landscape auditor will conduct a comprehensive review of the irrigation system and provide a written report. Reserved for commercial sites that have landscapes 1-acre or greater.

Water Savings Incentive Program (WSIP): Receive funding for customized water efficiency projects. The payment amount is up to $0.60 per 1,000 gallons saved per year over the project life, capped at a maximum of 10 years. Incentives are limited to 50% of eligible project costs.


 Resources & Tools

Climate-friendly Design Templates: The District has developed five tree-centered garden styles to help communities navigate through their next landscape transformation project. MEDITERRANEANCAL NATIVE, and SOUTHWEST, are a few of our favorites. 

OC Plants Directory: The District has developed this website to help customers view and select low water use plants that work in our community. Galleries of example landscapes from SMWD’s service area can be viewed and clicked on for specific information about that plant.

Performance-Based Irrigation Management Contract TemplateThis template contract is available for HOAs to use in combination with the free Water-Smart Landscape Program (see above). HOAs and property managers can build into their landscape maintenance contracts mechanisms to ensure landscapes are managed efficiently.

Free Toilet Leak Detection TabletsRunning Toilets are the #1 cause of indoor leaks. Consider placing these leak detection tablets in a centralized location for residents to use to test and find a toilet leaks on their property.  


Classes & Workshop:

Weather Station


Budget-based Rates & Weather

SMWD has established two weather stations with the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) that will be used to measure evapotranspiration (ET). CIMIS provides monthly, daily, and hourly weather data for easy retrieval 24/7. Station Number 241 is located in San Clemente and Station Number 245 is located in Coto de Caza. View the ET Water Stations data.

Water Budget Infographic

NOTE: The District implemented a budget-based tiered rate system for irrigation accounts, beginning in January 1, 2016. This applies to both domestic and non-domestic (recycled) irrigation accounts. Read an informational flyer (PDF) that explains how water budgets are calculated. View specific information about the rate system.  Beginning in summer 2022, we will be working with our new San Juan Capistrano customers to implement a similar rate system for implementation in spring 2023.

website footerHOA & Large Landscape Outreach

SMWD is always looking for ways to partner with our HOA's to assist with community events and presentations surrounding water efficiency. We can also assist with the development of customized climate-friendly plant palettes and design templates.  View a presentation (PDF).