Although California has had a banner year for rainfall, water scarcity and sustainable water management are a huge focus for the state and our area. In Monterey County, we use water credits to incentivize conservation and promote responsible water consumption. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) manages our water credit program.
What are Water Credits?:
A “water credit” refers to a fixture value, for example, a washbasin (fixture) equals 1.0 water credits, and a toilet (1.2 gal/flush) equals 1.7 water credits. An inspection by the Water District establishes a baseline water credit count which will be kept on file for future reference. Once your property has a documented water credit report, your count is fixed unless you are able to upgrade your appliances to low flow, high efficiency machines or in some areas, buy more water credits.
Things to Remember:
In general, water credits remain with the property and can't be traded or sold to other property owners. Some local cities/entities provide the opportunity to purchase water credits but not all cities have that option. For example, Pacific Grove and the Pebble Beach Company have water credits available because they do water recycling on their golf courses. The City of Monterey and Carmel are not selling water credits at the moment. If you have the opportunity to purchase water credits, a deed restriction will be placed on your property. Keep in mind that city ordinances, water sources and retrofit rules may vary throughout Monterey County so always check with the specific government agency for rules and regulations.
Unlike other areas of California, you can not automatically add a bathroom or other water fixture to your home unless you have available credits. The one caveat is the California state law that allows you to add an additional bathroom to your existing homes without being subject to certain local restrictions if it only has 1 bathroom and 2 or more bedrooms.
It should also be noted that you can't install a water meter on a lot without a permit, nor can you remodel a home and increase the number of water fixtures without a permit from the MPWMD. This is in addition to permit and zoning requirements of the municipality so make sure to do your research before you begin a project.
Our water policies may sound restrictive but water is a focus for sustainability and growth. Without water, we can't build homes or grow our communities and we all need to do our part to protect our resources.
Here's a link to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District website. https://www.mpwmd.net/