Water Demand Offset Policy and Fees

New requirements for construction projects completed during severe water shortages

During a severe water shortage, the City’s water supply would not be able to meet the ordinary needs of our community. To continue reliably serving water during severe shortages, existing water customers would be required to comply with water allocations (water rationing, enforced with penalties), and new development would be required to offset its water demand to achieve a net zero impact.

The Santa Rosa City Council adopted the Water Demand Offset (WDO) Policy on March 29, 2022. The WDO Policy allows development to continue during severe water shortages, provided each project offsets its new water demand.

The WDO Policy applies to all new projects which are required to pay new or increased water connection fees. The WDO Policy does not apply to projects that (a) have submitted a building permit application prior to May 30, 2022, or (b) are not subject to new or increased water connection fees.

To comply with the WDO Policy, new construction projects that are subject to new or increased water connection fees must do the following:

Prior to issuance of the building permit:

  1. Download the WDO application
  2. Choose one of two options for compliance: either the (a) mitigation fee (WDO Fee) method, or (b) alternative compliance method (funded by the applicant). NOTE: Alternative compliance is subject to review and approval by the city.
  3. Submit a completed WDO application to [email protected] with the following documents: 
    1. For option (b) alternative compliance, submit a full description of the proposed method and how it will achieve the required offsets.
    2. For each parcel, include a copy of the recorded grant deed with Exhibit A Legal Description
    3. If the property is owned by a partnership, company, LLC, or corporation, include a copy of the operating agreement that identifies who has legal authority to sign on behalf of the legal owner. 
  4. Provide any additional information as requested by the City.
  5. The city will prepare and provide a WDO Agreement. The Applicant will need to review, sign, notarize, and submit two single-sided “wet copy” originals for city signatures. (see templates below).
  6. After receiving the fully executed (City signed) WDO Agreement, the applicant will need to record the WDO Agreement against the Property in the Official Records of Sonoma County and provide proof to the City ([email protected]).

After the building permit has been issued:

  1. Proceed with the development/construction project.
  2. Payment of the WDO Fee (or completion of the alternative compliance method) will be due when seeking final inspection or occupancy of any type – but only if Santa Rosa is experiencing a declared water shortage that requires existing customers to ration water at that time. NOTE: If the City is not experiencing a declared water shortage with water rationing requirements at that time, no WDO fees or alternative compliance will be required, and the City will release the applicant from the obligation.

Any WDO Fees collected will be used by to implement City projects or programs to achieve the required water demand offsets. Three potential offset programs are discussed in the WDO Fee Study provided below.

WDO Application, Agreement Template, Fee Schedule, Policy Documents

Type of DevelopmentWDO Fee
Residential Per Housing Unit
Single Family Residential
Small Lot (6,000 square feet and under)
$1,964
Large/Medium Lot (over 6,000 square feet to 1 acre) 
$2,782
Large Lot (over 1 acre)
$5,047
Duplexes and Triplexes per unit$1,649
Condos, Apartments Mobile Homes per unit
with separate irrigation service
$1,259
without separate irrigation service
$1,498
Eligible accessory dweling units (ADUs), Senior Housing, Single-Room Occupancy, and Small, High-Density Apartments per Unit.*$868
Commercial, Industrial, Institutional and Irrigation (CII)
Per thousand-gallon unit (TGAL) per month$415

*Applies to ADUs that are subject to Demand Fees (larger than 750 square feet). Small, High-Density apartments are 750 square feet and smaller.

  1. Colin Close

    Senior Water Resources Planner
    Phone: 707-543-4524

  2. Teresa Gudino

    Water Resources Analyst
    Phone: 707-543-3942

    Para enviar preguntas en español.