SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica is setting an example for  water conservation despite close to 60 percent of the state of California suffering from drought conditions. Santa Monica recorded 23 percent savings in water production in the month of December with the city’s cumulative savings standing at 20 percent.

With recent rains, the city is on track to reach its monthly average of 2.84 inches. Between January 1 and January 11, Santa Monica received 1.48 inches of rain. February being the wettest month of the year, averages 3.44 inches of rain.

Pacific storms in the recent weeks filled rivers and few snow showers in the Sierras impacted drought conditions in those areas.

Drought restrictions have been put in place in Santa Monica by the Office of Sustainability and Environment despite the rainy weather. Since these restrictions have been in place, 629 penalties for water use have been issued to customers.

Water rates in Santa Monica rose 5 percent on January 1, 2017. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica, for a single family residence using the City average of 24 HCF (17,952 gallons) over a two-month period, a 5 percent increase would raise a bi-monthly water bill by $4.06 from $83.08 to $87.14, which works out to be less than a half-cent ($0.00485) per gallon.

The increase is expected to generate an additional $2 million per year for water main replacements, a system that consists of 205 miles of pipeline.  The current budget provides for a 205-year replacement schedule, approximately double the 100-year replacement schedule recommended.  The total water main replacement budget would increase to $4 million per year, which will fund 2 miles annually to achieve a 100-year replacement schedule.  About 4 percent of Santa Monica’s water main system (8 miles) is at or over 100 years old.

The city of Santa Monica does not plan to release a list of customers who have exceeded their limit, but residents can waive their ticket if the city auditor visits their home and makes recommendations on methods to cut down water usage.

Santa Monica relies on 80 percent of its water supply from local groundwater sources. It takes 6 months to see measurable impacts after the rainy season.

Written By Arjun Balasdaram and Casey Roberts