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BMP Strategies for WELO Compliance

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These Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (WELO) are drawn from StopWaste’s interviews and meetings with local government staff and other landscape professionals. This is meant for city staff who enforce WELO.

During pre-application meetings and on the City website

  • Reinforce multiple benefits of WELO — water savings, healthier soil and plants, greenhouse gas reductions from use of compost, and more.
  • Encourage landscapes that use less than the MAWA.
  • Create a sample application process for residential and small commercial projects.
  • Introduce requirements early (e.g., entitlements, conditions of approval).
  • Create a dedicated, easy-to-find city web page with your city’s WELO process, checklist, and WELO resources.
    • Provide a Landscape Checklist. (For now, you can use CALBO’s checklist available at Look for StopWaste’s version for Alameda County soon.)
    • Provide ETo for your city and put it on handouts, your website, design review checklists, etc.
    • Provide a link to Lawn to Garden Marketplace (, an online directory of local compost and mulch suppliers.
  • Put the compost and tags requirements in your project info sheet.



  • Wait until everything is done (Landscape Architect walkthrough, irrigation audit and repair) before your site visit.
  • Be sure to require an Irrigation Audit. It is required in WELO and it is one of the best ways to ensure that the irrigation system is constructed and functioning per design. 


Design Review

  • Require mature plant size to be shown on plan and indicated in legend (so you don’t have to check plant spacing).
  • Require color coding of plants by water use.
  • Calculating MAWA and ETWU is not hard but check that ETo, ETAF, IE and landscape area are correct. DWR has a calculator ( so you don’t have to do these calculations manually. This allows you to quickly verify if you see numbers that don’t look right. 
  • Verify compost and mulch application and require tags in documentation. Consider making a soil management plan available. 


Behind the scenes/admin

  • Building department: Add a tab or fields in software (e.g., Eden/Accela) for WELO. Include required DWR reporting information.
  • Modify plot plan to enter landscape area.
  • Look for ways to streamline, such as checklists, getting data into software system, etc.
  • To improve implementation, consider contracting with a landscape architect if you don’t have one on staff. 
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