Water Demand Offset Policy and Fees

Water Demand Offset Policy

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 went into effect on May 30, 2022, and applies to all new projects which are required to pay new or increased water connection fees. 


Prior to issuance of the building permit:

  1. Download the WDO application
  2. Choose one of two options for compliance: either the
    1. Mitigation fee (WDO Fee) method, or
    2. 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 Engineering Resources at [email protected] with the following documents: 
    1. For each parcel, include a copy of the recorded grant deed with Exhibit A Legal Description unless it is a Lessee Improvement.
      NOTE: Lessee Improvement projects do not need to submit a grant deed. Instead, provide the Santa Rosa Water Customer number (from the water bill) on the WDO Application form.
    2. 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.
    3. For option (b) alternative compliance, submit a full description of the proposed method and how it will achieve the required offsets.
  4. Pay the application processing fee.
  5. Provide any additional information as requested by the city.
  6. 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 WDO Agreement templates below).
  7. After receiving the fully executed (city signed) WDO Agreement with city 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 Engineering Resources at [email protected].
    NOTE: Simple Project and Lessee Improvement WDO Agreements do not need to be recorded against the property.

After the building permit has been issued:

  1. Once the building permit has been issued, 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 adhere to water allocations (water rationing) at that time.
    NOTEIf 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 Development2023
Residential Per Housing Unit
Single Family Residential
Small Lot (6,000 square feet and under)
Large/Medium Lot (over 6,000 square feet to 1 acre) 
Large Lot (over 1 acre)
Duplexes and Triplexes per unit$1,741
Condos, Apartments Mobile Homes per unit
with separate irrigation service
without separate irrigation service
Eligible accessory dwelling units (ADUs), Senior Housing, Single-Room Occupancy, and Small, High-Density Apartments per Unit.*$917
Commercial, Industrial, Institutional and Irrigation (CII)
Per thousand-gallon unit (TGAL) per month$438

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