By Jorge Casuso
Editor's note: An original version of this article said that the water reductions were mandatory. They are voluntary. The article has been updated to reflect this information.
January 31, 2014 -- Due to the ongoing drought, the City of Santa Monica is asking residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent to avoid a “water crisis” and mandatory water reductions later this year.
“With the driest year in recorded history and the second drought in five-years to be declared by the Governor, it is imperative that Santa Monica use its water supplies efficiently,” Mayor Pam O’Connor said in a statement Thursday.
“The Governor’s call for a 20 percent reduction in water use as a response to the drought dovetails with the City’s goal for water self-sufficiency by 2020,” O’Connor said.
The City’s call came 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 its own water by 2020. (“Santa Monica on Track to Water Self-Sufficiency,” July 16, 2013)
A Water Shortage Advisory declared by the City Council in 2009 that called for voluntary conservation in response to the drought is still in effect, officials said.
“Today City Officials are asking residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use 20 percent from 2013 usage in an effort for the community to become water self-sufficient and avoid a drought induced water crisis and mandatory water restrictions,” City officials said in a statement issued Thursday.
Currently, the City’s modern groundwater treatment facilities meet more than 70 percent of the Santa Monica’s water needs, with the balance made up by imported water, officials said
The Sustainable Water Master Plan, which the City Council has signed off on, outlines water-saving measures and maximizes the use of local groundwater, stormwater and recycled water.
“Water self-sufficiency,” O’Connor said, “means eliminating our reliance on imported water, using our limited local groundwater wisely and efficiently, and optimally managing our local water supply.”
The City could implement its Stage 1 Water Shortage if the drought persists into the summer, businesses and residents fail to reduce water usage and/or MWD restricts its supplies.
Under Stage 1 each water customer, including residents and businesses, “would be allocated a certain amount of water during the billing period adjusted for seasonal variations and a penalty would be assessed for water use exceeding the allocation,” officials said.
Businesses would be allocated 95 percent of their previous year’s average water usage, officials said.
Although MWD expects to meet demands in 2014, the agency is “encouraging customers to use water wisely and efficiently and for cities like Santa Monica to develop additional local water supplies,” Santa Monica officials said.
Many Santa Monica residents and businesses already are reducing their water use, officials said. Last year, more than 400 rebates were provided for water savings products with an estimated 3 million gallons of water savings.
Rebates are available for taking measures that include “installing sustainable landscaping, water-saving drip irrigation and sprinklers, rain barrels, cisterns, toilets and urinals.
Larger rebates are available to businesses, including fitness centers, laundromats, and public agencies.
The three most effective ways to save water are fixing leaks and running toilets, cutting back on watering gardens and replacing old toilets with new, more efficient models.
For more details about rebates and saving water visit www.sustainablesm.org/water or call (310) 458-8459.