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Make Water Conservation a Way of Life

Make Water Conservation a Way of Life

Make Water Conservation a Way of Life

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Resources and Programs
Water Use Regulations
Report Water Waste
Water Supply

April 7, 2017: Governor Brown declared an end to the drought emergency in California. However, the City of Palo Alto Utilities encourages our residents to embrace water conservation as a way of life. 

The City of Palo Alto Utilities can provide you with other tips for water efficiency and information on water resources.

Resources and Programs

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), CPAU's partner in water conservation, offers programs and rebates to help Palo Alto residents use water more efficiently in the landscape.

To learn more or apply for any of the Landscape Rebates, contact SCVWD at or (408) 630-2554.

Stormwater Rebates

The City of Palo Alto’s Public Works department offers stormwater rebates for Palo Alto residents.  Some programs require a pre-inspection before the project can be completed. 

  • Rain Barrels
    • The City is offering residents a $50 rebate for the purchase and installation of each rain barrel, up to $1,000 maximum
  • Cisterns (Design review required)
    • The City offers residents a rebate of $0.15/gallon, up to $1,000 for cisterns
  • Permeable Pavement (Design review required)
    • The City offers residents a rebate of $1.05/ft.2 up to $1,000 for the installation of permeable pavement
  • Green Roofs (Design review required)
    • The City offers residents a rebate of $1.50/st.2 up to $1,000 for the installation of a green roof

To learn more or apply for any of the Stormwater Rebates, contact us at or at (650) 329-2295.

Check out the City of Palo Alto Utilities' Green Living Resources Guide for other rebates and programs.


Free Water-Wise Outdoor Survey

Home irrigation systems are often inefficient, due to equipment placement/coverage, over-watering, misting and evaporation patterns, and outdated equipment. Residential single-family and small multi-family sites with at least one valve-operated irrigation zone are eligible to participate in SCVWD’s Water-Wise Outdoor Survey.

Schedule an appointment online here.

Free DIY Water-Wise Indoor Survey Kit

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), CPAU's partner in water conservation, offers a Do-it-Yourself kit to evaluate indoor water use that includes a flow rate bag for testing shower and sink flow rates and dye tablets to test toilets for leaks. Included in the kit will be a step-by-step guide to evaluating water use, including:

  • Meter leak test
  • Toilet leak test
  • Sink/shower flow rates
  • General indoor leak information

To learn more, contact SCVWD at or (408) 630-2554.

Leak Detection

Learn how to check for leaks indoors and out by viewing our easy steps with this short video.

Seasonal Workshops

Attend one of our free sustainable landscape workshops to get hands-on experience and expert training for your next landscape or water efficiency project. To view and register for classes, please visit

Join our Utility Efficiency Services eNewsletter service to receive updates on events and programs.

Other Resources

Residential Water Efficiency
Commercial Water Efficiency
Easy Water Saving Strategies
City of Palo Alto Graywater Resources
Sample Water-Wise Landscapes
Canopy's Tree Library, Tree CareTree Watering Guidelines
Palo Alto's Landscape Water Efficiency Standards for New Construction

Water Use Regulations

The City of Palo Alto enforces permanent water use restrictions on wasteful practices such as leaks, runoff, irrigating during and immediately after rainfall, and use of potable water when non-potable water is available. Read about the City's guidelines and efficiency resources below.

  • Flooding or runoff is prohibited.
  • Turf and ornamental landscape* irrigation is not allowed between 10 am and 6 pm, except for hand watering with a bucket or a hose with a shut-off valve.
  • Broken or defective plumbing and irrigation systems must be repaired within a reasonable period.
  • A shut-off valve is required for hoses used to wash vehicles, buildings, etc.
  • Water in fountains or other decorative water features must be recirculated.
  • Commercial car washes must use recycled water systems if economically feasible.
  • Potable water for construction uses is prohibited is non-potable water is available.
  • Potable water for street sweepers/washers is prohibited if non-potable water is available

*“Ornamental landscape” refers to landscaping for purely decorative purposes, to be distinguished from edible gardens or landscapes that provide a function beyond aesthetics.

Current enforcement of the water use restrictions:

The City will notify customers when incidents of these water use restrictions are observed. This may be through use of a door hanger, email, phone call or letter. Notices are subject to fines and potential use of a flow restrictor on the water service.

  • 1st Notice: Doorhanger/Email/Phone call to customer
  • 2nd Notice: Doorhanger/Email/Phone call to customer
  • 3rd Notice: Certified letter from the Utility Director notifying customer of violation and potential future fines
  • 4th Notice: Fines

Report Water Waste

Use the free PaloAlto311 app on your smartphone or web application to report water waste. It's easy and allows us to track reports and follow up with you. Submit an online service request here.

You can also contact us by calling the Water Waste Hotline at (650) 496-6968 or email 

Water, Gas, Waste Water Emergencies:
Call Utilities Emergency Dispatch at (650) 329-2579.

Santa Clara County:The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) is the water wholesaler to most cities and water retailers in Santa Clara County. While Palo Alto receives water from a different water supplier, the SFPUC, we work closely with SCVWD on conservation programs. The SCVWD has been asking its water retailers to reduce water use by 20%. View this Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) Monthly Water Tracker Report for updates on water use and savings achieved county-wide and for individual water retailers.

Check out SCVWD's new landscape water calculator!

Palo Alto's Water: Palo Alto's water is supplied by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) through the Hetch-Hetchy reservoir and distribution system. Learn more on our water resources page.

Water Supply

Your Palo Alto Water Supply

Recycled Water & Other Alternative Water Sources

(Tuolumne river photo courtesy of Catherine Elvert, Utilities Communications Manager)

Last Updated: April 7, 2017