Water Conservation

Making every drop count is more than the Coachella Valley Water District slogan, it’s a way of life in the desert!

CVWD's Board of Directors first adopted the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan (PDF) in 2002. This comprehensive, 35-year blueprint was designed to ensure reliable, affordable water is readily available well into the future. The plan outlines how the valley will achieve this through reductions in customer demand, increases in imported supplies and source substitutions (such as greater use of canal and recycled water for golf courses and large outdoor irrigation).

An updated draft of the plan was completed in December 2010.

Sacramento legislators and the governor passed a law in 2009 requiring all California urban water providers to reduce their water deliveries 20% by 2020.

The district’s conservation efforts are focused on 3 areas: agriculture, urban, and golf.


Since its earliest days when district founders worked to cap free-flowing artesian wells in order to preserve previous groundwater, the district has been focused on efficient water use.

Early conservation efforts in agriculture included the construction of the Coachella Canal to provide a substitute for groundwater to local farmers. Unlike similar waterways around the world, the canal’s distribution system is entirely underground, preventing evaporation and water waste during the desert’s hottest months.

In 2003, the Coachella Canal lining project was completed, resulting in significant water savings that previously would have been lost to seepage. Today, Coachella Valley farmers are among the most efficient in the agricultural industry thanks to their widespread use of micro-irrigation, efficient irrigation scheduling, and smart salt leaching practices.

The proposed goal of the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan (PDF) is to reduce agricultural water use by 14% by 2015.


As the Coachella Valley’s domestic customer base expanded, water conservation by residential, homeowner association and business customers has become the focus of the district’s public outreach efforts.

Although only a 1/3 of the water in the Coachella Valley is used by residents, homeowner associations and businesses, these urban users can make the biggest impact on overall demand with conservation.

CVWD’s Water Management staff works closely with district customers to help them become more efficient water users and lower their monthly water bills. Since nearly 80% of residential water is used outdoors, all CVWD conservation programs are focused on promoting efficient outdoor water use.

The most common causes of water waste in the Coachella Valley are overwatering and leaks. In 2009, the District switched to a water budget-based tiered rate billing system to curb excess water use and reward water-efficient customers. A variety of other conservation programs currently are available for residential, HOA and business customers interested in reducing their water use.

The goal of the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan (PDF) is to reduce urban water use by 20% through conservation by 2020.

Golf Courses

The Coachella Valley is home to more than 120 golf courses, most of which are located within CVWD’s service boundaries. The average golf course uses about 850 acre-feet of per year to maintain its greens and adjacent landscaping.

In 2002, the District passed the strictest landscape ordinance (PDF) in the state. Most importantly, it limits turf areas, requires desert landscaping in non-play areas and sets water budgets for all new golf courses. Today, a similar law is in place across the state of California.

Currently 17.5 golf courses within CVWD boundaries use a nonpotable blend of recycled water and Colorado River water for irrigation. An additional 36 golf courses use all Colorado River water imported from the Coachella Canal. Plans are underway for an additional 40.5 golf courses to switch from groundwater to these nonpotable supplies in the future.

The district works closely with the local golf course industry and landscape professionals to improve water efficiency, introduce new technologies and demonstrate practices that maximize efficient water usage. Without a doubt, golf course superintendents are often the best water managers in the area.

In addition, the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan (PDF) outlines conservation goals for golf course water use at existing courses by 10%, and for new courses to be 25% more efficient than established courses of similar size.

What You Can Do

  • Reduce your water use. Review CVWD’s conservation programs to find the one that is right for you.
  • Be a role model. Convert your yard into a water-efficient landscape and show your neighbors how to be lush and efficient.
  • Educate yourself. Read the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan (PDF) and learn what the long-term vision for sustainable water use is for our valley.
  • Support local businesses and golf courses that use recycled water and desert-friendly landscaping. Let them know you appreciate their efforts to preserve the aquifer.