Applicant submits a signed Landscape Documentation Package along with their building permit application. This includes:
Water Budget/Water Use Calculator
Soil Management Report
Landscape Design Plan, Plant Legend and Specifications
Agency staff reviews the Landscape Documentation Package and approves the permit, plan check or design review or requests revisions and resubmittal.
After the permit is approved and the landscape installed:
Applicant submits a Certificate of Completion which includes:
Certification that landscape is built per plans
As-built drawings (if necessary to show major changes)
Irrigation diagram showing hydrozones
Irrigation scheduling parameters
Landscape and irrigation maintenance schedule
Irrigation audit report
Soil report (if not submitted during design)
Verification of implementation of report recommendations
Reviews the Certificate of Completion and accompanying submittals.
Conducts a site visit using the Landscape Installation Checklist. Site visits should be conducted only after the irrigation audit and repairs are complete.
Approves or denies final submittal prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy (if applicable) or requests revisions and resubmittal.
Is there a prescriptive compliance option for smaller landscapes?
Yes. WELO provides an optional prescriptive pathway to compliance for projects with less than 2,500 sf of total landscape area. In the ordinance, this is called Appendix D. However, not all jurisdictions allow applicants to use this abbreviated process. If yours does, these are the basic steps:
Before construction, applicant submits to the local reviewing agency:
Landscape Design Plan
Prescriptive Path (Appendix D) Checklist
Agency staff reviews the submittals and approves or requests revisions and resubmittal.
At the final inspection, applicant submits to the property owner:
Certificates of Completion and Installation
Schedule of Landscape and Irrigation Maintenance
How can reviewing agencies streamline the compliance process?
Create a dedicated agency web page that provides your agency's WELO applicability, process and submittal requirements, a copy of the State Model WELO or your agency's adopted WELO, the Reference ET for your city, the WELO Tool Kit and useful WELO Links. Much of the content can be copied from StopWaste’s WELO web page and brochure.
Be clear about what triggers WELO in your jurisdiction - is it plan checks, design review, permits?
Introduce applicants to WELO requirements early, such as during entitlements or conditions of approval.
Help the applicant avoid common mistakes. For example:
Did they use the right Reference ET for the project’s location?
Is the ETWU smaller than the MAWA?
Did they specify compost at 4 cubic yards/1,000 square feet of planting area (unless contraindicated by a soil test)?
Are low and high water-use plants in different hydrozones and on different irrigation valves?
Encourage applicants to use the ReScape Rating process to meet WELO requirements. (See next FAQ.)
After construction, require that an irrigation audit be completed by a certified Irrigation Auditor who is not part of the construction team. This is the best method to ensure the irrigation system is functioning properly.
Establish a procedure for collecting the data your jurisdiction must report annually to the State Department of Water Resources. If your building or planning department has project tracking software (such as Eden, Accela or Munis), add tabs or fields for the required WELO data points. Or keep a folder with a copy of each applicant’s Project Information so the data can be easily tallied for the annual DWR report.
Can Rated Landscapes help a project comply with WELO?
Yes. Your agency can streamline WELO compliance by accepting ReScape Rated Landscapes (formerly Bay-Friendly Rated Landscapes) documentation as an alternative to WELO documentation.
In this case, the applicant should submit the following items to the reviewing agency:
Project Information (same as for the normal WELO process); and
ReScape/Bay-Friendly Rated Landscape Project Application, which includes the Landscape Scorecard, water budget and ReScape Rater name and contact information.
Final ReScape/Bay-Friendly Rated Landscape Project Application
Letter or certificate from ReScape California verifying the project is approved as a Rated Landscape
Certificate of Completion (same as for the normal WELO process)
Who can sign off on WELO submittals?
This table shows WELO submittals that must be signed by a licensed professional.
Unlicensed individuals can only sign documentation for single-family residential projects.
*Landscape contractors can provide these drawings if work is supervised or performed by that contractor.
**The signer of the Certificate of Completion must be the designer of the project’s landscape or irrigation plan or landscape contractor.
How and when does my jurisdiction report annually to DWR?
WELO is updated on a three-year cycle, consistent with the California Building Code. However, the Department of Water Resources is expected to defer the 2020 update and focus instead on implementation. The next WELO update will likely take place in 2023.
Who can I contact for WELO help?
If you are a landscape professionals or property owner: Contact your local WELO reviewing agency (typically the city or county building permit office or in some areas, the water supplier)