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California Drought Laws: Prepare Before You Buy or Sell

July 1, 2015

This past April, Governor Jerry Brown declared California is in a state of emergency due to the ongoing drought conditions we face. The declaration included a mandatory 25% reduction in water use across the state. With this declaration there are several water compliance mandates which must be met by January 1, 2017.  A 2009 law has been cited to put the mandates in effect, helping ensure all single-family homes meet the requirements. Conservation includes everyone’s participation, so if you are looking to buy a home, or thinking of selling yours, there are key elements you need to be aware of. Your awareness will not only help you avoid fines, but it will help make any real estate transaction move more smoothly through the process.

California single-family homes are now required to be fitted with water conserving plumbing fixtures. The more efficient models will ensure water use reduction. For any new or remodeled homes, these fixtures will need to be in place during the construction process. Current land use regulations call for developers and builders to ensure there is a 20-year water supply for all new housing before plans can be approved. For properties already built, homeowners are required to make the necessary changes to their plumbing fixtures by the January 2017 deadline. Beginning January 1, 2017, anyone selling property will be required to provide a written copy of the retrofitting requirements, and disclose if there are any non-compliant fixtures. Realtors and buyers should also be aware of this new requirement to ensure proper documentation is received during the sale process.

SinkIf you currently own a home, whether you plan to sell or not, now is the time to begin any needed retro-fittings. The following plumbing fixtures are required to be replaced:

  • Any shower head with a flow of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute
  • Any interior faucet with a flow of more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute
  • Any toilet using more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush
  • Any urinal using more than 1 gallon per flush

If you have not begun replacing your plumbing fixtures with more efficient models, you may need to plan a budget and time frame for getting your replacements completed by the deadline. Good news is, there are several programs available to help with payment assistance, or that provide rebates, and to guide you through the process. The City of Brentwood and Contra Costa Water District are great places to start your search. There is also an incredible website dedicated to helping everyone learn about and conserve water. Save Our Water is a site full of tips, resources and news to help keep you in the know when it comes to the drought and water conservation efforts.

As a realtor, it is my job to make the process of selling or buying a home as easy as possible for you, my clients. This includes providing you with valuable information and resources. When you are ready to sell or buy a home, myself and my team are ready to help you through the entire process. We make the business of real estate a pleasure for you to experience. Contact us today at (925)634-7820, or by email at

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