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22.A.1 Purpose.

(a)    The State Legislature has found:

(1)    That the limited supply of state waters are subject to ever increasing demands;

(2)    That California’s economic prosperity depends on adequate supplies of water;

(3)    That state policy promotes conservation and efficient use of water;

(4)    That landscapes provide recreation areas, clean the air and water, prevent erosion, offer fire protection, and replace ecosystems displaced by development; and

(5)    That landscape design, installation, and maintenance can and should be water efficient.

(b)    Consistent with the legislative findings, the purpose of this ordinance is to:

(1)    Promote the values and benefits of landscapes while recognizing the need to invest water and other resources as efficiently as possible;

(2)    Establish a structure for designing, installing, and maintaining water efficient landscapes in new projects; and

(3)    Establish provisions for water management practices and water waste prevention for established landscapes.

22.A.2 Definitions.

The words used in this ordinance have the meaning set forth below:

(a)    "Automatic control valve" means a device used to control the flow of water in a particular section of the irrigation system.

(b)    "Automatic controller" means a mechanical or solid state timer, capable of operating valve stations to set the days and length of time of a water application.

(c)    "Backflow prevention device" means a safety device used to prevent pollution or contamination of the water supply due to the reverse flow of water from the irrigation system.

(d)    "Conversion factor (0.623)    " means a number that converts the maximum applied water allowance from acre-inches per acre per year to gallons per square foot per year. The conversion factor is calculated as follows:

(325,829 gallons/ 43,560 square feet)/12 inches = (0.623)

325,829 gallons = one acre foot

43,560 square feet = one acre

12 inches = one foot

To convert gallons per year to 100-cubic-feet per year, another common billing unit for water, divide gallons per year by 748. (748 gallons = 100 cubic feet.)

(e)    "Check valve" means a valve located under a sprinkler head to hold water in the system so it minimizes drainage from the lower elevation sprinkler heads.

(f)    "Density Factor" is based on how closely plant material is spaced in relationship to the material’s mature root/branch spread. An example might be junipers at 2-3’ o.c. would be high density, 5-6’ o.c. would be average density, and 10’ + o.c. would be low density.

(g)    "Design concept statement" is a one page narrative summary of the project briefly describing the planning and design actions that are intended to achieve conservation and efficiency in water use. It also provides the following information: project site, project location, landscape architect, irrigation designer, date, and person preparing the statement.

(h)    "Drip emitter" is an irrigation emission device that delivers a measured reduced quantity of water at a constant rate of discharge.

(i)    "Ecological restoration project" means a project where the site is intentionally altered to establish a defined, indigenous, historic ecosystem.

(j)    "Establishment period" means the first two years after installing the plant in the landscape.

(k)    "Estimated total water use" means the annual total amount of water estimated to be needed to keep the plants in the landscaped area healthy. It is based upon such factors as the local evapotranspiration rate, the size of the landscaped area, the types of plants, and the efficiency of the irrigation system.

(l)    "Evapotranspiration (ET)" means the quantity of water evaporated from adjacent soil surfaces and transpired by plants during a specific time period.

(m)    "Hydrozone" means a portion of the landscaped area having plants with similar water needs that are served by a valve or set of valves with the same watering schedule. A hydrozone may be irrigated or non-irrigated. For example, a naturalized area planted with native vegetation that will not need supplemental irrigation once established is a non-irrigated hydrozone.

(n)    "Infiltration rate" means the rate of water entry into soil expressed as a depth of water per unit of time (inches per hour).

(o)    "Irrigation efficiency" means the measurement of the amount of water beneficially used (i.e. used to sustain plant life and growth rather than evaporated or becoming run-off) divided by the amount of water applied. Irrigation efficiency is derived from measurements and estimates of irrigation system characteristics and management practices.

(p)    "Landscaped area" means the entire parcel less the building footprint, driveways, non-irrigated portions of parking lots, hardscapes - such as decks and patios, and other non-porous areas. Water features are included in the calculation of the landscaped area. Areas dedicated to edible plants, such as orchards or vegetable gardens are not included.

(q)    "Landscape coefficient" is the water use of a particular variety and type of plant material multiplied by the density of plant material factor multiplied by the particular microclimate factor for that area. (See table 1.)

(r)    "Landscaped irrigation audit" means a process to perform site inspections, evaluate irrigation systems, and develop efficient irrigation schedules.

(s)    "Mature landscape" means the point at which plants in the landscape have developed roots into the soil adjacent to the root ball and are somewhat self sufficient.

(t)    "Maximum applied water allowance/annual water budget" means, for design purposes, the upper limit of annual water for the established landscaped area. It is based upon the area’s reference evapotranspiration, the ET° Adjustment Factor, and the size of the landscaped area. The Estimated Total Water Use shall not exceed the Maximum Applied Water Allowance/Annual Water Budget.

(u)    "Mulch" means any material such as leaves, bark, wood chips or other materials left loose and applied to the soil surface to reduce evaporation. Rock is not considered a mulch and may be used for decorative purposes such as dry stream beds only. Other use is considered hardscape.

(v)    "Non-potable" means treated water of a quality suitable for non potable uses such as landscape irrigation; not intended for human consumption.

(w)    "Operating pressure" means the pressure at which a system of sprinklers is designed to operate, usually indicated at the base of a sprinkler.

(x)    "Overspray" means the water which is delivered beyond the landscaped area, wetting pavements, walks, structures, or other non-landscaped areas.

(y)    "Practical turf areas" means the use of turf only in those areas of active play or recreation such as sports fields, school yards, picnic grounds, or other areas with intense foot traffic, dust & noise abatement, glare reduction and temperature mitigation. It shall consist of drought tolerant varieties of turf.

(z)    "Precipitation rate" means the amount of water that is delivered from the irrigation system expressed in inches per hour.

(aa)    "Pulsing" means using the multiple start program to put the required amount of water down in small enough increments to avoid excessive runoff and allowing the water to be absorbed before starting the next cycle.

(bb)    "Rain shut-off device" means a system which automatically shuts off the irrigation system when it rains.

(cc)    "Recreational turf area" means areas of active play or recreation such as sports fields, school yards, picnic grounds, or other areas with intense foot traffic.

(dd)    "Reference evapotranspiration or ET°" means a standard measurement of environmental parameters which affect the water use of plants. ET° is given in inches per day, month, or year, and is an estimate of the evapotranspiration of a large field of four to seven-inch tall, cool season grass that is well watered. Reference evapotranspiration is used as a basis of determining the Maximum Applied Water Allowances so that regional differences in climate can be accommodated. Historical ET rates for the Fairfield area are as follows:













Year Total














(ee)    "Rehabilitated landscape" means any re landscaping project that requires a permit.

(ff)    "Run off" means water which is not absorbed by the soil or landscape to which it is applied and therefore flows from the area. For example, run off may result from water that is applied at too great a rate (application rate exceeds infiltration rate) or when there is a severe slope.

(gg)    "Soils test" is a report indicating soil type, soil depth, uniformity, infiltration rates, and pH. It shall also indicate recommendations for soil amendments to improve water holding capacity and other improvements to increase plant health.

(hh)    "Sprinkler head/overhead spray" means a device which sprays water through a nozzle. It may be a pop-up fixed spray head or an impact/gear driven rotor.

(ii)    "Station/circuit/zone" means an area served by one valve or by a set of valves that operate simultaneously.

(jj)    "Turf" means a surface layer of earth containing mowed grass with its roots. Annual bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass, Red fescue, and Tall fescue are cool-season grasses. Bermudagrass, Kikuyugrass, Seashore paspalum, St. Augustine grass, Zoysia grass, and Buffalograss are warm-season grasses.

(kk)    WUCOLS is the "Water Use Classification of Landscape Species" by the University of California Extension which is available from the California Department of Water Resources.

22.A.3 Applicability.

(a)    Applicability

(1)    Except as provided in Section 22.A.3(a)(3), section 22.A.4 (Landscape Documentation Package) shall apply to:

(A)    All new and rehabilitated landscaping for public agency projects and private nonresidential development projects that require a building permit; and

(B)    Developer-installed landscaping in single-family and multifamily residential projects.

(2)    Projects subject to this section shall conform to the provisions in this Chapter 22.A.

(3)    Section 22.A.4 shall not apply to:

(A)    Homeowner-provided landscaping at single-family and multi-family projects;

(B)    Cemeteries;

(C)    Registered historical sites;

(D)    Ecological restoration projects that do not require a permanent irrigation system;

(E)    Any project with a total landscaped area of less than 2,500 square feet. Portions of landscaped areas in public and private projects such as parks, playgrounds, sports fields, golf courses, or school yards where turf provides a playing surface or serves a recreational purpose shall be exempt.

22.A.4 Landscape Documentation Package.

(a)    A copy of the landscape documentation package conforming to this section shall be submitted to the City of Fairfield through either the building permit plan check process or the subdivision plan check submittal process.

(b)    The developer, prior to issuance of an occupancy permit, shall provide a copy of the approved landscape documentation package to the property owner or site manager along with the record drawings and any other information normally forwarded to the property.

(c)    Each landscape documentation package shall include the following elements:

(1)    Design Concept Statement and Certificate of Design Compliance.

(2)    Soils Report including infiltration rate, compaction relief, and recommendations for soil amendments.

(3)    Annual Water Budget figured by multiplying the Fairfield ET° rate of 45.2, times, an adjustment factor of .8, times, the landscape area square feet of your project, times, a conversion factor of .623. The total will be the maximum allowable water usage on your project.

45.2 X 0.8 X sf X 0.623 = Annual Water Budget in gallons

(22.528 X sf X 0.623 = Annual Water Budget in gallons)

This information shall be submitted on the Certificate of Design Compliance form.

(4)    A grading plan drawn on the project base sheet(s). It should be separate from, but use the same format as, the landscape design plan. It may be by the Landscape Architect or by the project engineer and shall show all berm locations.

(5)    A scaled landscape design plan drawn on the project base sheet(s) with a north arrow. It shall clearly and accurately identify:

A.    Hydrozones

B.    Plant materials

C.    Botanical and common names

D.    Container size

E.    Quantities

F.    Spacing

G.    Other landscape materials

H.    Property lines and street names

I.    Paved areas

J.    Pools, ponds and water features

K.    Fences and retaining walls

L.    Existing and proposed buildings and other features

M.    Natural features such as rocks, trees, etc., that will remain

N.    Planting details and specifications

O.    Designation of recreational turf areas. A statement shall be included with the landscape design plan designating areas to be used for such purposes and specifying any needed amount of additional water above the Maximum Applied Water Allowance.

P.    Total landscape area, total irrigated area, and total turf area

(6)    An Irrigation Design Plan drawn on the project base sheet(s) with a north arrow. It shall be designed to comply with the following:

A.    Minimize or avoid runoff, low head drainage, overspray or similar conditions

B.    Show irrigation equipment and schedules in a legend

C.    Use repeat cycles (pulsing) so that precipitation rate does not exceed infiltration rate

D.    Have hydrozones valved separately

E.    Show precipitation rate of each head or emitter used

F.    No overhead spray in areas less than 8’ wide

G.    No overhead spray on slopes steeper than 4 to 1

H.    Separate irrigation meter and backflow.

I.    Automatic control valves wired to automatic controller

J.    Controller with minimum dual programming and minimum 3 start times (provide Mfg. cut sheets)

K.    Proper operating pressure for valves

L.    Master valve for systems larger than 12 stations

M.    Check valves

N.    Low angle nozzles for gear driven/impact rotors

O.    Minimum head to head coverage

P.    Pop-up fixed spray head to be flat spray except on slopes where low angle nozzles might be necessary to avoid undercutting the slope

Q.    Matched precipitation rates

R.    Disc filter for non-potable systems or self-cleaning filters for drip systems larger than one acre

S.    Matched emitter rates on each circuit

T.    Irrigation details and specifications

U.    Landscape irrigation audit specified

V.    Monthly irrigation schedule chart

W.    Automatic rain shut off device

(7)    A water budget compliance chart (see table 3) showing each valve zone with the following information and calculation of Estimated Total Water Use for the project:

A.    KL (Plant factor-see Table 1 - water use x density x micro climate)

B.    IE (Irrigation Efficiency - see Table 2)

C.    AF (Adjustment Factor - KL _ IE = AF)

D.    IA sf (Irrigated Area - total area of zone)

E.    ET° (Local evapotranspiration rate of 45.2)

F.    CF (Conversion Factor to convert to gallons .623)

(8)    Maintenance Procedure Manual with monthly irrigation schedules for each valve zone for establishment and mature landscape. It will also include a regular maintenance schedule with:

A.    Monthly irrigation schedule

B.    Mowing heights for turf

C.    Aeration and de-thatching

D.    Irrigation system maintenance

E.    Visual Inspections as Needed

F.    Cleaning of Filters as Needed

G.    Flushing of Lines

H.    Adjusting & Repairing of Heads & Lines

I.    Calibration of Rain Gauges

J.    Replacement of mulch

K.    Fertilization

L.    Pruning

M.    Pest control & weeding

Also, include note that all replacement items are to be same items or same performance. This manual shall be in an 8 1/2 x 11 format that shall be kept at the controller.


TABLE 1 Landscape Coefficient (KL)


Water use x density x microclimate = KL (Landscape Coefficient)


Water Use

Density Factor










































Mix Group





















Irrigation Efficiency for Fairfield (IE)

Average Percent

Twin Stream & Impact or Gear Driven Rotors


Single Stream/Gear Driven Rotors


Flat Spray Heads


Low Angle Spray Heads


Micro Spray - 6’ radius or less


Micro spray - 6’ radius or more


Pressure Compensating Bubblers


Pressure Compensating Drip emitters


Underground Pressure compensating emitters


Underground non-pressure compensating



TABLE 3 Sample Water Budget Compliance Chart







IA sf






estimated gallons






















































Estimated Total Water Use



Maximum Applied Water Allowance



KL = Plant Factor (water use x density x micro climate) IE = Irrigation Efficiency AF = Adjustment Factor (KL _ IE)

IA sf = Irrigated Area (total area of zone) ET° = Local Evapotranspiration Rate (45.2) CF = Conversion Factor (.623)

Zone 1

is low water use turf of average density in average microclimate with single stream rotors.

Zone 2

is mixed plants of high water use, average density and average microclimate with pressure compensating drip emitters.

Zone 3

is mixed plants of average water use, average density and average microclimate with pressure compensating bubblers.

Zone 4

is mixed plants of low water use, high density and windy microclimate with underground pressure compensating emitters.

22.A.5 Design Requirements and Guidelines.

A landscape design plan meeting the following requirements shall be submitted as part of the landscape documentation package:


(1)    Plans must be drawn to scale with a north arrow and scale clearly indicated.

(2)    Design water use shall not exceed 80% of ET° for the total landscape area. The irrigation system shall average 65% or greater in efficiency.

(3)    The design shall be in compliance with the City of Fairfield’s adopted Urban Design Plan (Landscape Design Guidelines).

(4)    A maintenance procedure manual with a landscape management program shall be submitted scheduled in monthly increments. Proper scheduling of the irrigation and proper management practices shall be addressed.

(5)    A soils test shall be submitted with the landscape plan. Soil amendments shall conform to the City of Fairfield Standard Specifications in public areas. Commercial areas may use the soils test recommendations or City Standards. Irrigation scheduling shall take into account the soil permeability. Soils lab shall also provide a recommendation for compaction relief.

(6)    Because of the heavy clay soils predominant in Fairfield, overhead sprays shall not be used on slopes steeper than 25%. All areas including slopes shall utilize multiple start times to pulse the irrigation allowing for maximum infiltration of the applied water. Use drip or subsurface irrigation on steeper slopes. All non-paved areas shall have a minimum of 2% slope and shall not allow standing water in any landscape area.

(7)    All projects shall have a separate irrigation meter and backflow device.

(8)    All projects shall be designed and installed with automatic control valves and an automatic controller. See the City of Fairfield Standard Specifications for projects on City sites or within the City right-of-way.

(9)    Controllers shall be reprogrammed seasonally and all projects other than residential shall include an automatic rain shutoff device or be linked to a weather station.

(10)All valves shall be operated under proper operating pressure. Pressure reduction shall be provided as necessary for drip and underground systems and a valve specified for drip use shall be used for such systems.

(11)    Check valves shall be installed at all points where elevation differences cause low head drainage. Flush valves shall be installed at the end of all drip lines.

(12)    Spray heads shall be installed at maximum head to head spacing and shall use flat spray patterns in most situations. Use heads with matched precipitation rates. Schedule overhead spray to run between 10pm and 10am.

(13)    A maintenance procedure manual with irrigation schedules shall be provided by the Landscape Architect for each site and attached by the owner to the controller. The following items shall be covered in the manual:

A.    Mowing heights for turf

B.    Aeration and de-thatching

C.    Irrigation System Maintenance including daytime visual inspection, cleaning of filters, flushing of lines, adjusting and/or repairing heads and calibration of rain gauges

D.    Replacement of mulch

E.    Fertilization

F.    Pruning as Needed

G.    Pest control and weeding

H.    Scheduling of irrigation (for establishment and for mature plants)

(14)    After the landscape has been completely installed, a landscape irrigation audit will be required. The cost of the audit will be borne by the installation contractor and a copy of the audit report will be provided to the City. This requirement shall be clearly stated on the landscape plans.


(15)    Avoid using overhead spray in narrow, irregular or odd shaped areas where uniformity of application cannot be achieved. No overhead spray may be used in areas less than 8’ wide unless the designer can show that a uniform application of water can be achieved without overspray into adjacent areas under Fairfield wind conditions. Irrigation shall be designed for summer winds averaging 16+ m.p.h.

(16)    The majority of the landscape area should be comprised of low water use plants. The majority of the plants should be adapted to local climatic conditions and, after an establishment period, placed on a reduced or non-irrigation schedule.

(17)    Any plant may be used providing that plants having similar water needs are grouped together in hydrozones and the total water use of all hydrozones does not exceed the annual water budget. A separate valve shall be provided for each plant grouping. An accepted source for plant water needs would be the WUCOLS project plant list available from the California Department of Water Resources. Also reference the City of Fairfield list of "Drought Tolerant Plants for Fairfield" available from the Public Works Department. Designer shall also take into account occasional winter lows in Fairfield in the 10 15× range. These numbers do not include the wind chill factor. Do not use excessively frost tender plant materials.

(18)    Turf shall typically not exceed 25% of the total landscape area in commercial or residential projects except for special designs, recreational needs, or practical turf areas. Practical functions include recreation, sports, dust & noise abatement, glare reduction and temperature mitigation. Regardless of the amount of turf used, a water conserving turf variety, such as tall fescue, shall be used.

(19)    Controllers shall have, at a minimum, dual programming and 3 or more start times. The controller shall be large enough to provide individual scheduling of each valve.

(20)    Multiple start times (pulsing) shall be utilized to reduce runoff and allow infiltration into heavy clay soils.

(21)    Drip irrigation shall be provided with disc filters for non-potable water or self cleaning screen filters for projects over one acre in size. The drip or underground system shall provide for uniform wetting of a minimum of 75% of the root zone and shall provide water to opposite sides of the plant. All emitters on any particular circuit shall have the same flow rate with larger trees and shrubs provided with more emitters. Systems shall be designed to allow for plant material growth. All emitters used on slopes shall be pressure compensating devices.

(22)    Fire prevention needs shall be addressed in areas that are fire prone.

(23)    Water features may be used if they use recirculating water and are included in the estimated total water use. Pools and spas shall have covers.

(24)    Three inches of mulch shall be applied to all planting areas except low groundcovers and turf. In the low groundcover areas the mulch shall be applied around, but not touching the crown of the plant stem.

(25)    Non potable water irrigation systems shall be installed where non potable water will be available in the foreseeable future. They shall be designed and operated in accordance with all local and State codes. Contact the City of Fairfield Public Works Department, Water Section, for information on the availability of non potable water for your site. The recycled water irrigation systems shall be designed and operated in accordance with all local and state codes.

22.A.6 Public Education.

(a)    Publications

(1)    The City of Fairfield shall develop a program to provide information to owners of all single family residential homes regarding the design, installation, and maintenance of water efficient landscapes.

(2)    Information about the efficient use of landscape water shall be provided to water users throughout the community.

(b)    Model Homes

(1)    At least one model home that is landscaped in each residential subdivision, consisting of eight or more homes, shall demonstrate via signs and information, the principles of water efficient landscapes described in this ordinance.

(2)    Signs shall be used to identify the model as an example of a water efficient landscape and featuring elements such as hydrozones, irrigation equipment and others which contribute to the overall water efficient theme.

(3)    Information shall be provided about designing, installing, and maintaining water efficient landscapes.

22.A.7 Water Waste Prevention.

The City of Fairfield shall minimize water waste resulting from inefficient landscape irrigation by prohibiting runoff, low head drainage, overspray, or other similar conditions where water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, walks, roadways, or structures. Penalties for violation of these prohibitions are established in Chapter 22, Section 22.82 of the Fairfield City Code. (Ord. 92-30, § 1.)

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The Fairfield Municipal Code is current through Ordinance 2015-03, passed March 3, 2015.

Disclaimer: The City Clerk's Office has the official version of the Fairfield Municipal Code. Users should contact the City Clerk's Office for ordinances passed subsequent to the ordinance cited above.

City Website: http://www.fairfield.ca.gov/
City Telephone: (707) 428-7384

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