Tips for Saving Water

  • Remember to shut off the faucet while using soap. Washing your hands for 20 seconds does not mean leaving the faucet on simultaneously. After wetting your hands, shut off the faucet using a tissue/towel. Reopen it once you’re done applying soap. Sparing a couple of seconds to shut off the faucet can go a long way in conserving water.
  • Take a shower rather than a bath.  Try turning the water off in between washing your body, shampooing and conditioning.  To go one step further, place a bucket in the shower with you to collect any excess water.  An ideal shower is about 2 to 4 minutes long.
  • When refreshing a pet’s water bowl, use the old water on house plants rather than pouring it down the drain.
  • Keep a jug or bucket next to the kitchen faucet to collect any water that you run when waiting for the tap to heat up. You can use this to water your houseplants or in the garden.
  • Practice the 3Rs: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Simple practices such as reusing cooking water for watering plants or reusing water used for boiling vegetables to make soup can have a significant impact.
  • Minimize water waste by checking for any potential leaks on your property.
  • While washing your face, shaving, or brushing your teeth, be sure you don’t leave the water running needlessly.
  • Make a conscious decision to minimize your laundry.  Run the washing machine only when full.



The State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations April 1, 2015 to safeguard the State’s remaining water supplies by imposing mandatory water restrictions.  These restrictions were more stringent than those of IWVWD’s Ordinance 93 – Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance adopted in May 2010, so the District adopted Ordinance 100 – Emergency Water Conservation Regulation to comply with these new restrictions, which was in effect until the State’s mandates were lifted and eventually replace with Ordinance 103 in September 2017.  Scroll down to the Policies section and click on Ordinance 103 for the specific regulations.

After a relatively good snow pack in northern California during the winter of 2015/2016, the State decided to approach conservation requirements differently.  The State Water Resources Control Board allowed water agencies to “self-certify” their conservation standard that would remain in effect until January 2017.  The procedure for self-certification included the assumption of a continuing drought for the next 3 years and determining what water supplies are available.  Because the IWVWD is dependent upon groundwater and there was sufficient supply for the next three years, using the State’s method resulted in a target of 0% conservation.  However, the Department of Water Resources has classified our basin as a high priority basin in critical overdraft based on chronic lowering of the aquifer level. Consequently, the Board of Directors and staff of IWVWD believed it was prudent to continue conservation efforts while the local Groundwater Sustainability Agency was formed and allowed to develop the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (The plan was approved in January 2022).  At the June 13, 2016 meeting, the Board voted to keep Ordinance 100 in place and establish a conservation target of 20% for the period of June 2016 and extending at least through the end of January 2017. The 20% conservation target remains in effect to this day and Ordinance 103 was adopted to make water conservation a way of life for customers of the Indian Wells Valley Water District.

You may view the calculation used for the self-certification here.  The Certification of the Self-Certified Conservation Standard may be viewed here.

Xeriscape Gallery

Xeriscape Landscape

Xeriscape is a water-efficient landscape plan designed to help conserve water. A well-designed landscape requires less maintenance, less mowing, once-a-year mulching, and a selection of plants that are adapted to the area and more drought tolerant.

Xeriscaping is a method using seven basic landscape principles. Working with these principles, you’ll conserve water and drastically reduce maintenance time. One can achieve a beautiful green landscape that does not have to be all cactus and rock gardens.

  1. Garden Design
    As with any landscape venture, you need to begin with a basic design. Various factors may influence your decision to complete the entire plan or to work in stages until you finish the job. A good design will incorporate your family needs. Consider how much time you want to spend on maintenance and how you want to use your yard.  Strategically plant shade trees, ground covers and shrubs to help cool your house. Group plants with similar water needs together to irrigate more efficiently. Keep in mind the mature size of the plants you choose for your landscape.
  2. Soil Improvement
    Soil preparation is as important as selecting plants. To help your shrubs and flowers, add 4 inches of organic material to the soil. This organic matter will increase the soil’s ability to absorb and store water for plant use. Your plants will be healthier, and watering can be kept to a minimum.
  3. Watering Techniques
    Drip irrigation is the most effective system for your watering needs. Easily added to an existing system, it makes watering as convenient as turning on the faucet. You can also use drip systems for all landscaped area and containers. These low-volume drip systems put the water directly into the root zone, reducing evaporation and runoff. Remember to water early in the morning or in the evening to lessen water loss through evaporation. During the heat of the day, water loss is higher than cooler hours.
  4. Approved Plant List or visit our Plant Database
    Select proven plants for our area. Young trees and shrubs will require water more often, but after they’re established, water thoroughly on an infrequent basis. This will encourage them to grow deep roots and be tolerant of hot, dry conditions.
  5. Grass Selections
    Grass selection and lawn care are major factors in conserving water. Bermuda grass and Buffalo grass are recognized as good drought-tolerant grasses. Most lawns receive twice as much water as they actually require. Wait until the grass starts to turn dull green or until footprints leave lasting impressions in the grass to determine when to water again.
  6. Mulching
    A layer of mulch material covering the soil surface around plants will conserve moisture, help prevent soil compaction, conserve water, and protect plant roots from both heat and cold temperatures. Rocks are good inorganic mulch materials.  Click here for more information on mulching.
  7. Care and Maintenance
    Proper care and maintenance will preserve the xeriscape beauty. Weed control, proper mowing, proper fertilization, pest control, and an efficient irrigation system will all help conserve water.

Getting started

The Indian Wells Valley Water District has a variety of resources available to help you get started.


The Indian Wells Valley Water District Board has several ordinances designed to promote water conservation through water-efficient landscape and practices within our desert community to preserve our water source for future generations.

Ordinance 98 applies to single-family dwelling properties that have a water meter installed for the first time after December 1, 2015. Property owners are required to sign a covenant agreeing to the landscape restrictions listed in Section 3 of Ordinance 98 in order to receive water service.  The covenant is recorded by the County Recorder as notice to the current and subsequent property owners the provisions of this ordinance.

Ordinance 99 applies to multi-family, commercial, and public properties that have a water meter installed for the first time after December 1, 2015. Property owners are required to sign a covenant agreeing to the landscape restrictions listed in Section 3 of Ordinance 99 in order to receive water service. The covenant is recorded by the County Recorder as notice to the current and subsequent property owners the provisions of this ordinance.



Ordinance 103 Applies to all IWVWD customers and promotes water conservation through mandatory water-efficient practices.  For example, customers with even numbered addresses are restricted to outdoor watering on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday*; customers with odd numbered addresses are restricted to outdoor watering on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday*; limited daytime water restrictions from April through October and water run-off prevention.  Read Ordinance 103 for full details.

* Exceptions include hand-watering and drip irrigation


Evaporative cooling is the most common method for Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) residential and some commercial customers to deal with our hot summer temperatures due to the relatively low energy cost compared to HVAC.  However, evaporative coolers require a significant amount of water because water must be refreshed periodically for maximum efficiency.  Units typically either use a purge pump or a continuous bleed line to prevent water from concentrating and depositing calcium carbonate on the pads.  Based on testing conducted by IWVWD at our facilities, water use can easily range from 65 gallons per day for units without a purge pump to 160 gallons per day for units equipped with a purge pump.  The water discharged during purging or draining can be used to irrigate landscaping (trees, shrubs, roses, etc.).  With the need to conserve water in our desert climate, it is important to understand how an evaporative cooler works and how to maintain it properly for maximum efficiency.  Information is available at the following links:


Swimming pools and spas are not water wasters.  On average swimming pools are three times more efficiently than the turf they most often replace.  Uncovered pools, which lose water from evaporation, use about the same amount of water annually as drought resistant landscaping of the same size.  Covered pools use substantially less water than even drought resistant landscaping.  For more information click here.


So, you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer and have decided to xeriscape your yard, but you don’t know where to begin.   I am not a professional landscape designer (yes – this is a disclaimer), but I have learned a few tips and tricks from the professionals over the past few years to make the conversion easier.  While your finished product will reflect your personal style, here are a few general steps to follow.

Step one is to make a plan. Think about what you want to see in your yard and plan for the type of yard maintenance you want when the project is finished.  Drive around town or search the web for examples of xeriscapes.   Check out the different types of plants and ground cover including artificial turf and hardscapes like flagstone or concrete patios;  note how rocks, gravel or stones are used; and consider adding yard art such as sculptures or a waterless fountain. Think about terracing sloping yards to prevent irrigation water running onto sidewalks and into the street.

Step two is to sketch your desired landscape on paper. To maximize irrigation efficiency, group plants with similar watering requirements together.  Make a list the materials you’ll need.  For example, if you plan to use stones or gravel, you may want to invest in weed cloth to keep unwelcome weeds from invading.  Research where you can purchase plants for your landscape or consider growing them from seed.  There are several local vendors that sell rock from boulders down to lava stones and pebbles.  Check out their supplies noting various colors, textures and size. 

The next step is to prepare the area. Let living turf die.  Remove dead turf and old roots watching out for underground sprinkler lines.  Once the area is clear, map out your existing automatic irrigation system.  See if you can reuse any of it.  In some cases, you can exchange spray heads for bubbler or drip heads.  To prevent leaks, cap off or remove old piping you won’t need in your new landscape. If you have trees, be sure to set up a water source to ensure they are adequately watered. Sculpt and contour the ground for stone riverbeds or to add interest to your landscape.  Level the ground where hardscape will be added.  Make the necessary cuts for terracing and shore up the edges using materials like railroad ties or decorative bricks. 

Lastly, execute your plan. Xeriscape conversion can be expensive, and if your yard is huge, it may feel overwhelming.  If that’s the case, consider converting the yard in sections.  Pick the section you dislike the most and convert it first moving on from there.

 The District also has FREE reference materials at the District Office and on our website.   There are a lot of professional landscapers in town who can help you.  Pick up a Garden Resource list from the office or off the website, and if you have a garden resource and would like to be added to the list, contact IWVWD directly.  If you have questions or need assistance, please call the Indian Wells Valley Water District at (760) 375-5086.  We are here to serve you!