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What is New Water and How Will it Help Make us Self-Sufficient

June 2, 2017 9:57 AM
by Andrew Basmajian

What is New Water and How Will it Help Make us Self-Sufficient

Just yesterday, Mayor Winterer joined 60 other American mayors in reconfirming our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement as part of the Climate Mayors group. In Santa Monica, we've already been hard at work on our own sustainability goals. Last week, we proudly dedicated the Los Amigos Stormwater Harvesting and Direct Use Demonstration Project, a first of its kind “new water” retrofit for Los Amigos Park. The project brings stormwater and dry weather runoff from the adjacent street onto the park grounds for watering the grass and flushing toilets. Mostly hidden below ground in a large system for treating and storing the captured water, the project promises to bring over a half a million gallons of new water annually into our water system. 

“New water” is the water already here that does not need to be imported. It’s rainwater we capture from rooftops and water captured from streets. It will eventually include wastewater diverted from the sanitary sewer and put to an appropriate new use.  New water projects do two big things. First they make us more resilient by reducing water imports, and second, they protect the surface waters of the Santa Monica Bay, the economic and recreational jewel of our community.

New water projects are spread throughout Santa Monica and they are not limited to big projects. The most notable large project is the one currently under construction on Rose Avenue in Los Angeles, which brings water from a massive 2.7 million gallon cistern in Penmar Park to irrigate Marine Park, another important sports facility for our community.  Currently, there are 240 small projects across the city that capture rainwater for direct use on site, and the hope is to continue to grow that number over the coming years.

The $1.8 million Los Amigos project was made possible from a generous grant from the Metropolitan Water District and the City’s Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax, which our residents voted for as a measure to protect the Bay. The Santa Monica-Malibu School District shares the facility and, together, we bring vital open space to the community with the least environmental impact possible to ensure a sustainable future.

Stay tuned to learn about other big and small projects that capture new water and save our vital groundwater supplies. And remember, individuals can make a difference with a rain barrel or small cistern; all of the small actions you take every day to preserve water helps us reach water self-sufficiency by 2020. Learn about what you can do at

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