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Water Conservation Ordinances

The City of Santa Fe has enacted several ordinances and resolutions to create a wide-ranging set of water conservation requirements, as well as a water rate structure designed to provide financial incentives to conserve water.

The purpose of the Comprehensive Water Conservation Requirements Ordinance (SFCC 1987 25-2.2) is to provide the city with the means to reduce per capita water demands by requiring its citizens and businesses to comply with prescribed water conservation regulations and by establishing financial incentives for water conservation. The ordinance is amended and changed as new programs are added.

The ordinance was published in the City of Santa Fe Water Conservation and Drought Management Plan (November 2010) in Appendix C Comprehensive Water Conservation Requirements Ordinance.

What Do I Need to Know?

No Outside Watering from 10 am to 6 pm

Time-of-day provisions do not apply to the following:

  • Irrigation necessary for one day only with treatment of an application of chemicals.
  • Visually supervised operation of irrigation systems for short periods of time to check system condition and effectiveness.


No Outside Watering from 10 am to 6 pm between May 1 and October 31. Because of evaporation, it takes more water to irrigate during the heat of the day. Some gardeners also claim it can burn your plants. Watering during the cooler times of the day is water-wise and possibly better for your garden.


Those who violate the water-use rules are subject to fines. The fees are added to the water bill of the violator. 1st violation: $20 2nd violation: $50 3rd violation: $100 4th and each additional violation: $200

Year-Round Requirements

In addition to the time-of-day requirement, the City has numerous other year-round restrictions on water use inside and outside of the home.

Outdoor Water Use Requirements

Irrigation and Watering

  • It is recommended that watering is limited to no more than three days a week. One of those days should be on the weekend.
  • Overspray and runoff while watering plants is prohibited.
  • Overhead spray irrigation is prohibited for watering trees and shrubs.
  • Turf grass sod or grass seed mixed must contain less than 25 percent Kentucky Bluegrass. Warm season grasses are more appropriate for Santa Fe.
  • A permit is required for all new irrigation system installations and for major renovations of existing systems. A backflow prevention device, certified under the Uniform Plumbing Code is required for all systems connected to the city water system.

Retail Nurseries and Landscape Contractors

Nurseries and landscapers must provide low water use landscape literature and water-efficient irrigation guidelines to customers with the purchase of perennial plants and sod or grass seed, or with a landscape service contract.

Southwest Plant Selector App

Use this app to find xeric landscape plants specifically for New Mexico. All plants in this app thrive on little or no supplemental water.

Other Outdoor Restrictions

  • Santa Fe residents are allowed to wash their vehicles at home but only once a month and only with a nozzle that automatically shuts off when not in use.
  • Residents are not allowed to use a power washer or hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, outdoor eating areas and other hard surfaces.
  • Shut-off nozzles are required on hoses used for hand watering.
  • Outdoor swimming pools must be covered when not in use.
  • Commercial car sale lots and other commercial and governmental entities are limited to washing each vehicle one time per month unless there is a demonstrated public health or safety reason for more frequent washings.
  • Commercial car sale lots shall be allowed to wash cars at time of sale and prior to placing in a showroom.
Santa Feans can wash vehicles at home but only once a month and only with a nozzle that automatically shuts off when not in use.

Indoor Water Use Requirements

  • Public, semi-public, and governmental entities are required to post water conservation signage in restroom and shower facilities. (The Water Conservation Office offers signs free of charge.)
  • Hotels, motels, and other lodging facilities shall provide a water conservation informational card or brochure in a visible location in each guest room. (The Water Conservation Office offers table tents and towel hangers free of charge.)
  • The property owner or manager must repair minor water system leaks, as determined by the city, with fifteen days of initial notification by the Water Division; severe leaks must be repaired immediately.
  • All public and private eating establishments shall provide water only on request and shall clearly communicate this to customers through table tents, a note on the menu, or clearly visible signage. (The Water Conservation Office offers table tents free of charge.)
  • Lodging facilities shall not change the sheets and towels move than once every four (4) days for guests staying more than one night.
  • Title companies and others that close real estate transactions must provide the buyer with city-provided water conservation literature.
  • The City will provide new water customers with water conservation literature.

Water Conservation Signage

Santa Fe businesses are required to display water conservation signage. The city provides signage at no charge.
Request Signage

Water Rates Structure

The City of Santa Fe has implemented a rate structure that encourages water conservation.

High water rates along with surcharges for water use beyond defined limits have been a part of the success of Santa Fe’s water conservation and drought management programs.
View Rates

For more detail, you can download the the City of Santa Fe Comprehensive Water Conservation Requirements Ordinance