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Santa Monica to Crack Down on Water Waste

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jorge Casuso

January 14, 2014 -- After three years of reducing enforcement of its water conservation law, Santa Monica will begin cracking down on wasteful water use this spring, City officials said.

The crackdown comes after the number of citations the City issued dropped from 128 in 2007 to 11 since 2010, according to a memo sent to the City Council from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

The renewed enforcement comes after the City Council last July signed off on a Sustainable Water Master Plan that outlines strategies that would allow Santa Monica to rely solely on it own water by 2020. (“Santa Monica on Track to Water Self-Sufficiency,” July 16, 2013)

“The goal of changing to a more aggressive enforcement practice is to dramatically reduce water waste,” according to the memo from Dean Kubani, who manages the Office of Sustainability.

“More aggressive enforcement will assist residents and businesses in implementing water efficiency practices and technologies, reducing water waste and saving water,” Kubani said.

City officials have launched a campaign to inform businesses, homeowners, apartment management companies and major gardening and landscaping companies about the change in enforcement procedures, staff said.

Under the new enforcement strategy, staff will give those who violate the sprinkler over-spraying provision seven days to comply before an administrative citation is issued.

For those who violate provisions related to hosing of hardscapes, irrigation system leaks and draining pools, tubs, fish ponds, fountains and other water features, the City will no longer issue a warning. Instead, a citation will be immediately issued.

“It is clear that the issuance of warnings has not provided a significant deterrent and water wasting violations have continued at a relatively high level throughout the community as a result,” Kubani said

Although the number of warnings increased dramatically after the Governor publicly ended the drought in mid-2010, the number of citations issued remained minimal.

In 2011, the 1,611 warnings issued resulted in one citation, while the 2,006 issued the following year resulted in two. There were 773 warnings and eight citations during the first half of last year.

Enforcement of the water conservation law will mirror changes to the leaf-blower enforcement ordinance instituted last year, officials said.

Code Compliance, which took over enforcement of that ordinance from the Office of Sustainability, will be charged with the effort to crack down on water waste.

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