Santa Monica Maintains Emergency Drought Measures as State and MWD Adjust

July 18, 2016

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- The winter snow storms in the Sierras and heavy rains in Northern California have prompted the State of California and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) to revisit emergency drought measures in order to give local water agencies the ability to make adjustments.  However, due to the persistent drought conditions in Southern California, the City of Santa Monica will maintain its current drought measures.  The most significant of these measures are generous incentives for conservation, and water use allowances and penalties for not meeting the allowance, which were implemented in June 2015. 

Currently, 76% of water customers are using less than their allowance each month and the City has given out more than 12,000 water saving products and rebates since 2015.  For those receiving penalties, the majority of these customers are opting for an in-person water use consultation in order to have the first citation waived.

"The residents, businesses and visitors are doing their part—from small measures to larger ones—to save water now and in the future, but the job is not over just yet,” said Dean Kubani, City of Santa Monica's Chief Sustainability Officer. “We are on our way to achieving our water conservation goals, but we need to sustain these savings to protect against future shocks and to promote resiliency no matter what the weather brings.”

Though Santa Monica has met its mandated local and State water conservation goal of 20% below 2013 usage levels, the baseline year for the drought response effort, the drought conditions have not abated in Southern California. This, and the City’s long-term strategic goal of becoming self-sufficient on local water sources played a factor in the decision. 

“Nearly 80% of the City's water comes from local groundwater sources.  With virtually no El Niño rains this year, it is imperative to use water efficiently and prudently so we keep our groundwater levels healthy and avoid importing water," states Kubani.   

Many other water agencies are relaxing mandatory water conservation measures, indicating belief that people will voluntarily continue to live with reduced water use (Los Angeles Times, 6/24/16).  In May of this year, the Governor lifted the mandatory water conservation requirements for the state. Since then, water use in Santa Monica has begun trending upward again, even though the region is still in a drought.

There are easy and practical water-saving measures, rebates, and programs available to help all customers reduce their water use by 20%.

Three recommended ways to save water include:

  1. Reduce irrigation watering by three minutes each cycle.
  2. Replace toilets, showerheads, and faucet aerators that are older than 2014 with WaterSense® labeled products. The City has a limited supply of free showerheads and faucets aerators.
  3. Fix leaks as soon as possible.

For more information, visit www.smgov.net/water or call 310.458.8972.

Further to its long-range water management approach, the City is also encouraging property owners to contribute to L.A. County's water management and planning through the use of non-potable water both outdoors and indoors through guidelines issued in February.  If you are a property owner who would like more information about this, please contact the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability & the Environment (www.sustainablesm.org).

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