Watering In Dallas

There was already an Irrigation ordinance which applies to development, so when we speak of irrigation requirements in Article X, it's to describe how to use the system to keep the plants alive.  This is a good moment to discuss the new requirements for irrigation under the new ordinance while addressing the philosophy of water conservation throughout.

As we started this ordinance process over three years ago, water conservation was at the forefront of our thinking to provide positive results in efficient water usage.  We even added a 'to conserve water' line to the Purpose statement. We found that there is much to be said in regulations which already existed and in the specific efforts of Dallas Water Utilities and others in promoting water conservation in landscapes.

The efforts to improve soil area and conditions, grow larger trees (and more shade), and to allow for improved water efficiency measures, led to the 'New Testament' (I can't take credit for that one) ordinance we have today.  But first, there is a simple rule to follow with irrigation in Dallas:

"All irrigation will need to be submitted to the Plumbing Inspector for plan review and meet the requirements of Appendix F of the 2015 Dallas Plumbing Code.  All irrigation requires a separate permit." - Chief Plumbing Inspector

Let's start there at the mechanics and you figure out how to set up your irrigation system.

Now, the revised Article X picks it up there and is written to tell you when the automatic irrigation system must be used to help keep your required landscaping alive.

The Article X regulations read as follows:

(a) In general.

(1) Except as provided in this section, automatic irrigation systems must be installed in conjunction with new required landscaping for commercial and multifamily uses with combined landscape areas of 500 square feet or more per building site.

(2) The automatic irrigation system must be:

(A) shown on a landscape plan or irrigation plan; and

(B) adequate to maintain the plant materials in a healthy, growing condition at all times.

   (b) Renovations and additions that require landscaping.  For building sites or artificial lots with an area of two acres or less, all required plant materials must be located a maximum of 100 feet from an irrigation source with a permanently installed threaded hose connection.  Proposed watering methods (irrigation or otherwise) must be:

(1) shown on the landscape plan, if any; and

(2) capable of maintaining the plant materials in a healthy, growing condition at all times.

(c) Alternate irrigation.   The building official may authorize an alternate method of irrigation for required landscape areas if the alternate irrigation method is:

(1) certified by a landscape architect or licensed irrigator;

(2) shown on a stamped landscape plan or irrigation plan; and

(3) capable of maintaining the plant materials in a healthy, growing condition at all times.

Essentially, the new ordinance mandates automatic irrigation systems in most new commercial development to be designed and installed in accordance with the Dallas Plumbing Code.  There are exceptions to the design and in scope of development, especially when a professional landscape architect or irrigation professional can apply a specific landscape design with a water-wise system. 

Furthermore, there are incentives in the Landscape Design Options to include water collection systems for water reuse. Look under Low-Impact Development for point options.

When applied with the Sustainable Development Incentives for tree mitigation reduction, these enhanced systems can also work toward tree replacement reduction credits.

Native and adapted plant materials are highly encouraged in all new landscaping.

We encourage you to review the options for water-wise plant materials and irrigation processes beyond the normal means.  If you can improve efficient water use and utilize proper zoning for your plant materials, you are more credited in the landscapes, bills are reduced, and everyone benefits.