SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council is scheduled to vote on Proposition 218, which proposes a water rate increase for a five-year period beginning in March, on February 24.

The proposition explains that the water rate increase is necessary to avoid a deficit in the City’s Water Fund resulting from comprehensive water system improvement programs. In other words, the same programs that help Santa Monica residents become more self-sufficient with water, are adversely affected by the decline in the City’s water sales.

Nearly 30 percent of Santa Monica’s water is imported and purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), which gets the water from Northern California and the Colorado River, both of which have been significantly impacted by drought.

To reduce their dependence on the MWD, the City is offering rebate programs for installing sustainable landscaping, water-saving drip irrigation and sprinklers, rain barrels, cisterns, toilets, urinals, and more. Additionally, larger rebates are offered for specific businesses such as fitness centers, laundromats, and public agencies. 
In 2013, more than 400 rebates were given.

Other lost revenue for the Water Fund resulted from the implementation of mandatory water reductions pursuant to its Water Shortage Response Plan, which caused an immediate 20 percent reduction in water sales.

Proposition 218 argues, “The proposed rate increases, if adopted, will improve the financial position of the City’s Water Fund, reduce the risk of revenue shortfalls from projected reduced water sales, fund identified self-sufficiency related improvements, and improve net operating parameters that are required to issue new municipal debt that may be needed for future water system improvements.”

If adopted, the first increase will apply on March 1, 2015, at nine percent. Then, each January from 2016 to 2019, there will be an additional 13 percent increase.

The City Council will hold a public hearing to consider the proposed water rate increases on February 24, at 5:45 pm in the City Council Chambers located at 1685 Main Street, Room 213, Santa Monica, CA 90401. At the public hearing, any interested person may speak regarding the proposed resolution to adopt the proposed water rates.