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Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership named recipient of SWAT Outstanding Public Engagement Award

The Water Smart Landscape Design Template project provided residents with water-efficient, sustainable landscape plans to rebuild following devastating wildfires.

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA (Oct. 5, 2022) — The Irrigation Association has named the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership as the recipient of the Smart Water Application Technologies 2022 Outstanding Public Engagement Award. This award recognizes a water provider with a successful program focused on public engagement and education on smart, efficient irrigation technologies and practices.

The Water Smart Landscape Design Template project was a response to the devastating October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties in California. With more than 5,000 homes destroyed, the task of rebuilding in the aftermath presented challenges and opportunities. The Water Smart Landscape Design Template project assisted those rebuilding in the region by streamlining the permit process and encouraging the installation of water-efficient, climate-appropriate and sustainable landscapes.

For this project, the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership, made up of 13 water utilities, created eight different permit-ready landscape design templates and a companion guide that are free to use, open source and customizable. The templates incorporate California Department of Water Resources Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance requirements, smart irrigation technologies and a variety of optional green infrastructure elements.

“Congratulations to the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership for being honored with the Outstanding Public Engagement Award for their Water Smart Landscape Design Template project,” said Natasha Rankin, MBA, CAE, IA CEO. “Through this program, they responded to a crisis devastating to many living in that area and were able to help these residents rebuild smarter while utilizing water-efficient irrigation solutions that are saving their region millions of gallons of water each year.”

Over 40% of all rebuilt homes in the region have utilized the Water Smart Landscape Design Templates. Based on the number of permits issued using the templates, it is estimated that the new front yard landscapes will use approximately 8.7 million gallons less water each year than would have been used if typical turf landscapes had been reinstalled. A savings of about 2.2 million gallons per year is expected over a standard Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance compliant landscape.

The 2022 Outstanding Public Engagement Award was presented on Oct. 5 during the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition. Applications for the 2023 SWAT awards will open in early 2023. For more information about SWAT and these awards, go to