SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, October 28, the Santa Monica City Council met to discuss ways to sustain and address the state of California’s drought, water self-sufficiency and proposals for new water rates.
According to a press release from the City of Santa Monica website, the new strategy includes mandating a 20 percent reduction from 2013 use from all sectors (single-family, multi-family, commercial, and landscaping), a customized Water Use Allowance for all water customers, residential water conservation thresholds drought surcharges and a variance process.
Customers who conserve water are not likely to be impacted by the new proposed requirements. Nearly 42 percent of single-family water customers and 80 percent of multi-family water customers utilize less than the proposed threshold. Back in 2011, the SM City Council aimed to have 100 percent water self-sufficiency by 2020. The goal of the Sustainable Water Master Plan (SWMP) is to develop more groundwater capacity, rainwater harvesting and storm water capture and additional recycled water sources.
Water customers in Santa Monica have lower rates than citizens who live in Beverly Hills, Culver City, Los Angeles and other surrounding regions. A proposed rate increase between 9 to 13 percent is on the table, but even if that increase were to go into effect residents of Santa Monica would still see cheaper water rates than other water agencies.
In 2009, the City asked for a voluntary 10 percent reduction in water use to combat the state’s drought, and that target was increased in 2014 to 20 percent. On August 12, 2014, the City Council announced a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage, which caused the 20 percent water conservation target mandatory and put into effect the City’s WSRP.
Mandatory conservation measures for usage of water for landscape, cleaning, water features, waste, leaks and drinking would remain the law under any new measures. The City is expected to continue providing customers with water audits, access to rebates for sustainable landscapes, rainwater harvesting, and other efficiency measures, and offer additional conservation programs and training.
In order to help achieve the new mandatory 20 percent water reduction goal, the City urges residents and businesses to adopt water saving strategies, including:
-Keep showers to 5 minutes or less
-Check for and repair leaks in toilets, faucets, showers and irrigation systems
-Replace low flow toilets with WaterSense toilets (rebates available)
-Replace top-loading washing machines with Energy Star front-loading washing machines (rebates available)
-Replace lawns with water-smart plants, mulch and drip irrigation (rebates available)
Members of the community will be able to express their concerns in November and December about possible changes to the WSRP which will all be taken into account when presented to the City Council in January 2015. The City of Santa Monica provides water to nearly 18,000 customers. Back in 1990, the City began reducing the amount of imported water that was purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California by raising the production of local groundwater and implementing water conservation programs and policies. Because of these modifications the City is now able to meet 60 percent of its water needs.
Any new water rates or possible drought surcharges are subject to California’s Proposition 218. Notices are expected to be mailed to all property owners with a description of the process to follow to oppose the proposed rates. City Council could adopt new rates during a public hearing in January 2015, if absent a majority protest, and new rates would go into effect in January 2015. Drought surcharges for excessive use could occur in March 2015.
To obtain more information about the City’s rebates and resources to save water can visit www.smgov.net/water.