Bookmark and Share

Plumbing Fixture Retrofit Requirements

In July 2013 the County updated its water conservation ordinance to better preserve the county’s water resources by reducing consumption. This ordinance applies to properties located in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County area that are not served by the City of Santa Cruz, City of Watsonville, or other public water suppliers who administer similar water conservation programs.  All properties at the time of sale must retrofit water fixtures that do not meet high efficiency standards. The map below shows the different programs throughout the County.

Summary of ordinance

All existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings that use water in showers, toilets, and urinals, prior to transferring title or sale, shall be retrofitted exclusively with high efficiency plumbing fixtures that restrict maximum water flow from showerheads to 2 gallons per minute and reduce the amount of water used in toilets to 1.28 gallons per flush and urinals to .5 gallons per flush. The seller shall be responsible for complying with the retrofit requirements and for obtaining a water conservation certificate unless the buyer and the seller agree to transfer responsibility to the buyer.

How to obtain a water conservation certificate

  1. Prior to sale of property, provide a disclosure form notifying the buyer of the requirements of this chapter.
  2. Retrofit the water fixtures to comply with the high efficiency plumbing standards.
  3. Have the fixtures inspected by real estate agent, plumber, contractor or other qualified professional and complete and sign the Water Conservation Certification Form.
  4. No inspection fo fixtures by County staff is required.
  5. Submit Forms:  

E-mail signed forms to

OR mail forms to

Santa Cruz County Environmental Health       
Water Conservation Program        
701 Ocean St Rm. 312 Santa Cruz, CA 95060


High Efficiency Plumbing Standards

  • Shower Head: 2 gal/min
  • Toilet: 1.28 gal/flush
  • Urinal: .5 gal/flush

Transfer of responsibility

Before a change of ownership, the seller and buyer of any property may agree to transfer responsibility for retrofit requirements to the buyer. In the event the buyer agrees to assume responsibility for retrofitting, the buyer shall complete the retrofit within ninety calendar days from the date of the sale. Before the time of the sale, the seller and buyer shall complete the following procedures:

  1. Both the seller and buyer shall sign the Retrofit Responsibility Transfer Form certifying that the buyer has assumed responsibility for the retrofit.
  2. The seller shall file the signed transfer of responsibility to retrofit form with the County and include it in the real estate transfer documentation in lieu of the water conservation certificate.
  3. Submit Forms
  4. Upon completing the retrofit, the buyer shall complete the Water Conservation Certification Form and Mail to the Santa Cruz County Water Conservation Program to verify compliance. Water conservation certificates shall be maintained on file at Environmental Health Services in order to provide future verification that high efficiency plumbing fixtures have been installed. Environmental Health can FAX or e-mail copies to interested parties.

Real Estate Agent Responsibility

Disclosure Form:  The seller and/or the seller’s real estate agent or broker shall give written notice to the buyer of the requirements of this chapter within a reasonable time prior to the transfer of title. The statement shall be either included in the receipt for deposit, in a real estate transaction, an addendum to the real estate transfer disclosure statement, or a separate document. A signed copy of the water conservation certificate and written notice of retrofit requirements shall be included in the transfer documentation.

Exemptions:  Existing water efficient fixtures which use not more than 1.6 gallons per flush for toilets or 2.0 gallons per minute for showerheads. Structures which are recognized as historically significant or listed on a federal, state, or local historic registry are exempt from the requirements of this chapter when both of the following circumstances exist: authentic historic plumbing fixtures are presently in place in the structure; and the plumbing fixtures cannot be replaced by matching high efficiency fixtures.

Designation of public water supplier
The Health Services Agency Director may authorize a public water supplier which has adopted and implemented requirements at least as stringent as those contained in sections 7.69.040to administer the provisions of this Chapter within those portions of their services areas that are subject to this Chapter. Such authorization shall be established by a written agreement between the County and the public water supplier. The City of Santa Cruz Water Department and Soquel Creek Water District are authorized to implement these requirements within their service areas. The County does not enforce retrofit requirements within the Cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Capitola, or Scotts Valley.

City of Santa Cruz Plumbing Fixture Retrofit Regulations
City of Watsonville Program


Failure to Comply

If the seller fails to comply with the retrofit requirements as specified in Section 7.69.040, the buyer shall install the high efficiency plumbing fixtures within ninety days from the date of sale. Any seller who fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter is liable to the buyer in the amount of two hundred and fifty dollars for each fixture that does not comply with this chapter at the time of sale, or the actual costs of the buyer to comply with this chapter, whichever amounts are greater.

Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and be fined in accordance with the provisions of Section 1.12.040 of the Santa Cruz County Code. Each day such a violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such.

Text of the ordinances