Whether it’s generational families expanding or new people joining our community, Petaluma is growing. With growth comes the need for additional housing.

To ensure there is enough housing for everyone to live affordably, the State of California determines projected population numbers and estimates the number of new housing units needed to meet demand. The State allocates each city a number of housing units that are required to be built to support the growing population.

The State also requires water suppliers to ensure there is enough water available for California communities. As a water supplier, the California Water Code requires Petaluma to prepare an Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) every five years to assess the reliability and availability of water for current and future needs over a 25-year planning horizon. Water demand projections take into consideration several factors including population and employment growth, anticipated development in the General Plan, a range of dry year scenarios, and more.

The California Water Code also requires the City to prepare an updated Water Shortage Contingency Plan (Shortage Plan) every five years, which defines water shortage levels and identifies response actions that reduce water use to meet a reduced water supply.

While required by the State to create new housing units, Petaluma values sustainable growth that offers affordable and diverse housing for our community. Some ways we protect our finite water supply – both year-round and during water shortage emergencies – while continuing to develop the housing our community needs, is to create rules and guidelines for new development. Some of these rules and guidelines include:

  • Building codes that require indoor and outdoor water efficiency.
  • Municipal code requirements for new and rehabilitated landscapes to use water efficiently and maintain a water budget based on plant type and landscaped area.
  • New development is only allowed to plant between November 1 and April 30.
    • Exception for stormwater treatment features.
    • Exception for mitigation plantings required by regulatory agencies.

As shown in the graph on this webpage, the population (red line) has increased over time while citywide water use has decreased. Improved indoor and outdoor water use efficiency has allowed us to serve more people with less water than we have historically. To ensure this is the case for many years to come, the City continues to expand its water supply portfolio and rules for new development so we are better prepared for future water shortages. Let’s make water conservation a way of life in Petaluma!

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