Chapter 7.69
WATER CONSERVATION

Sections:

7.69.010    Purpose.

7.69.020    Definitions.

7.69.030    Prohibited water uses.

7.69.040    Plumbing fixtures retrofit regulations.

7.69.060    Designation of public water supplier.

7.69.070    Violation—Penalty.

7.69.080    Civil remedy.

7.69.090    Enforcement.

7.69.010 Purpose.

The public and environmental well-being requires that water not be wasted or put to unproductive uses. Inefficient or wasteful water use in any part of Santa Cruz County at any time of the year diminishes the amount of water available for other users, drought relief and environmental values. The purpose of this chapter is to prevent waste of water and to reduce long-term demand for water supply within Santa Cruz County. Water conservation will also decrease energy use and production of greenhouse gases. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter:

(A)    “Buyer” means the person, persons, or entity to whom title to real property is conveyed.

(B)    “Customer” means the person who has contracted for water services with the public water supplier.

(C)    “Director” means the Health Services Agency Director; the chief official of a public water supplier authorized to implement this chapter pursuant to SCCC 7.69.060; or that subordinate designated by the Director or authorized chief official.

(D)    “High efficiency plumbing fixtures” means any fixture which is designated as an USEPA WaterSense fixture; or any showerhead rated to use a maximum of two gallons of water per minute, any high efficiency toilet rated to use a maximum of one and twenty-eight hundredths gallons of water per flush, and any urinal and associated flush valve rated to use a maximum of one half gallon of water per flush.

(E)    “Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation or political entity.

(F)    “Public water supplier” means the public entity which provides water to the affected property.

(G)    “Retrofit” means the replacement of conventional plumbing fixtures with high efficiency plumbing fixtures.

(H)    “Seller” means the owner of real property prior to the time of sale.

(I)    “Time of sale” means the date of the recording of the deed transferring legal title to real property to implement the sale of the property.

(J)    “Transfer of responsibility to retrofit certificate” means a form provided by the County of Santa Cruz or the authorized public water supplier that certifies that the seller and buyer mutually agree that the responsibility for compliance with the retrofit requirements in this chapter is assumed by the buyer.

(K)    “Water conservation certificate” means a form provided by the County of Santa Cruz or the authorized public water supplier certifying compliance with the plumbing fixture requirement specified by this chapter. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.030 Prohibited water uses.

(A)    The provisions of this section apply to all use of water in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County. Water conservation measures in addition to or more stringent than those contained in this chapter may be required by other chapters of this code, or otherwise required by a supplier of water as a condition of water service.

(B)    It is unlawful for any person to use water for any of the following uses:

(1)    Use of water from any fire hydrant unless specifically authorized by the public water supplier, except by regularly constituted fire protection agencies for fire suppression purposes;

(2)    The watering of grass, lawn, groundcover, shrubbery, open ground, crops and trees, including agricultural irrigation, in a manner or to an extent which allows water to run off from the area being watered;

(3)    The escape of water through leaks, breaks or malfunction within the water user’s plumbing or distribution system for any period of time within which such break or leak should reasonably have been discovered and corrected. It shall be presumed that a period of 24 hours after the water user discovers such break, leak or malfunction, or receives notice from the director or the public water supplier of such condition, whichever occurs first, is a reasonable time within which to correct such condition or to make arrangements for correction;

(4)    The washing of hard or paved surfaces, including but not limited to sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios or alleys, except when necessary to alleviate safety or sanitary hazards, and then only by use of a bucket or similar container, a hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle, a pressure washer, a low-volume, high-pressure water efficient broom, or a cleaning machine equipped to recycle the water used;

(5)    The washing of building exteriors, mobile homes, cars, boats, and recreational vehicles unless the hose is equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle or a pressure washer;

(6)    The operation of an ornamental fountain unless water for such use is recirculated;

(7)    The use of water in new ice-making machines and any other new mechanical equipment that utilizes a single pass cooling system to remove and discharge heat to the sanitary sewer. Water used for all cooling purposes shall be recycled;

(8)    The washing of vehicles at a commercial car wash unless the facility utilizes water recycling equipment, or operates on a timer for a limited time period and shuts off automatically at the expiration of the time period;

(9)    The use of potable water for dust control or soil compaction purposes in construction activities where there is a reasonably available source of reclaimed water appropriate for such use;

(10)    Individual residential car washing unless the use of water is minimized by use of a bucket, hose with automatic shut-off valve or pressure washer;

(11)    The indiscriminate running of water or washing with water which is wasteful and without reasonable purpose.

(C)    The director may grant written variances for uses of water otherwise prohibited if he or she finds and determines that failure to do so would:

(1)    Cause an emergency condition affecting the health, sanitation or fire protection of the applicant;

(2)    Cause an undue and severe hardship on a particular user or business; or

(3)    Render the continued operation of a business economically infeasible.

The Director shall require sufficient evidence or proof be submitted to justify any variance. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.040 Plumbing fixtures retrofit regulations.

(A)    Retrofit Requirements Upon Change of Improved Real Property Ownership.

(1)    All existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, shall, at the time of sale, be retrofitted, if not already so, exclusively with high efficiency plumbing fixtures. Pre-existing toilets that use not more than one and six-tenths of a gallon per flush shall be considered to meet the requirements of this chapter.

(2)    The seller shall be responsible for complying with the requirements of this chapter and for obtaining a water conservation certificate in accordance with subsection (B) of this section, before the time of sale, unless responsibility is transferred to the buyer, pursuant to subsection (E) of this section.

(3)    The seller and/or the seller’s real estate agent or broker shall give written notice to the transferee of the requirements of this chapter as soon as practicable prior to the transfer of title. A signed copy of the water conservation certificate and written notice of retrofit requirements shall be included in the transfer documentation.

(B)    Upon retrofitting with high efficiency plumbing fixtures, prior to change of ownership, the seller shall verify compliance by one of the following methods:

(1)    Physical inspection of the building by public water supplier staff or other person authorized by the director to perform an on-site property inspection and to certify that the plumbing fixture requirements specified in this chapter have been satisfied; or

(2)    Participation in a public water supplier toilet rebate program, where documentation of an inspection demonstrates that the retrofit requirements of this chapter have been satisfied; or

(3)    Documentation that all structures on the property changing ownership that include plumbing fixtures were constructed or renovated in 1994 or later; or

(4)    The director may accept a written affidavit from a qualified individual that certifies that the plumbing fixture requirements specified in this chapter have been satisfied.

(C)    Once compliance with the requirements of this chapter has been verified, a water conservation certificate will be issued to the seller.

(D)    The director may waive re-inspection and/or further proof of retrofit when a property already certified undergoes subsequent change of ownership. Water conservation certificates shall be maintained on file at the department in order to provide future verification that high efficiency plumbing fixtures have been installed.

(E)    Before a change of ownership, the seller and buyer of any property may agree to transfer responsibility for compliance with this chapter to the buyer. In the event the buyer agrees to assume responsibility for retrofitting, the buyer shall complete the retrofit within 90 calendar days from the date of the sale. Before the time of the sale, the seller and buyer shall complete the following procedures:

(1)    The seller shall request from the director a transfer of responsibility to retrofit form. Both the seller and buyer shall sign the form certifying that the buyer has assumed responsibility for the retrofit.

(2)    The seller shall file the signed transfer of responsibility to retrofit form with the director and include it in the real estate transfer documentation in lieu of the water conservation certificate.

(3)    Upon completing the retrofit, the buyer shall contact the director to verify compliance. A water conservation certificate shall be issued to the buyer upon verification of compliance in accordance with subsection (B) of this section.

(F)    The director may grant an exemption to the retrofit requirements of this chapter if he or she determines that the unique configuration of a building drainage system or portions of a public sewer, or both, are incompatible with high efficiency toilet specifications and require a greater quantity of water to flush the system in a manner that is consistent with public health. The director shall require sufficient evidence or proof be submitted to justify any exemption.

(G)    Structures which are recognized as historically significant or listed on a federal, state, or local historic registry are exempt from the requirements of this chapter when both of the following circumstances exist: authentic historic plumbing fixtures are presently in place in the structure; and the plumbing fixtures cannot be replaced by matching high efficiency fixtures.

(H)    No liability shall arise, nor shall any action be brought or maintained against, any agent of any party to a transfer of title, including any person or entity acting in the capacity of escrow officer, for any error, inaccuracy, or omission relating to compliance with this chapter. However, this section does not apply to a licensee, as defined in Section 10011 of the California Business and Professions Code, where the licensee participates in the making of the certification required to be made pursuant to this chapter with actual knowledge of the falsity of the certification. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, this section shall not be deemed to create or imply a duty upon a licensee, as defined in Section 10011 of the California Business and Professions Code, or upon any agent of any party to a transfer of title, including any person or entity acting in the capacity of an escrow officer, to monitor or ensure compliance with this chapter, or to notify any person of requirements to comply with this chapter.

(I)    A transfer of title is not invalidated on the basis of failure to comply with this chapter. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.060 Designation of public water supplier.

The Health Services Agency Director may authorize a public water supplier which has adopted and implemented requirements at least as stringent as those contained in SCCC 7.69.040 and 7.69.050 to administer the provisions of this chapter within those portions of their services areas that are subject to this chapter. Such authorization shall be established by a written agreement between the County and the public water supplier. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.070 Violation—Penalty.

Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and be fined in accordance with the provisions of SCCC 1.12.040. Each day such a violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.080 Civil remedy.

If the seller fails to comply with the retrofit requirements as specified in SCCC 7.69.040, the buyer shall install the high efficiency plumbing fixtures within 90 days from the date of sale. Any seller who fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter is liable to the buyer in the amount of $250.00 for each fixture that does not comply with this chapter at the time of sale, or the actual costs of the buyer to comply with this chapter, whichever amounts are greater. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].

7.69.090 Enforcement.

(A)    Any person, whether as principal, agent, employee, or otherwise, knowingly and willfully violating, causing, permitting, or continuing violations of this chapter shall be liable for civil penalties, enforcement costs and other enforcement remedies in accordance with the provisions of SCCC 1.12.070.

(B)    Whenever the Director has knowledge of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, she/he may provide a notice of intent to record a notice of violation to the owner of the property upon which the violation is located. Notice shall be provided by mail at the address shown on the latest assessment roll for the property. The notice shall state that within 20 days of the date of the notice, the owner may request a meeting with the Director to present evidence that a violation does not exist. In the event that a meeting is not requested and the violation has not been corrected, or in the event that after consideration of the evidence the Director determines that a code violation in fact exists, the Director may record a notice of code violation in the office of the County Recorder. At the request of any affected property owner, the Director shall issue a notice of expungement of code violation upon correction of any violation noticed hereunder. The notice of expungement may be recorded by the affected property owner at his or her expense. The decision of the Director shall be final.

(C)    A public water supplier may use the foregoing or any other means of enforcement that it is authorized by law to employ. [Ord. 5159 § 2, 2013].