By Daniel Larios
July 18, 2014 – Santa Monica could soon begin rationing water and restricting when lawns can be watered, how cars can be washed and which customers are served water at restaurants.
With water usage up by two percent during one of the longest running droughts in California history, City officials will ask the Council next month to enact tougher restrictions on water use.
At its August 12 meeting, the Council could decide whether to initiate Stage 2 of the City’s Water Shortage Response Plan, which includes rationing and requires mandatory water use restrictions to meet a 20 percent reduction target.
“The increase (in water usage) can be attributed to the dry condition, and people are using more water,” Borboa said. “Also, the calls for conservation were voluntary, not mandatory.”
The City’s drought response plan includes “increased enforcement and changes in water allocation.” said Gilbert Borboa, Santa Monica’s Water Resources Manager. “Stage 2 establishes water allowance per customer. It’s mandatory in that it allocates a certain amount of water per person.”
During Stage 2, water allowances would be 68 gallons of water per person per day. The average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Stage II also would boost enforcement of water use restrictions.
The restrictions would prohibit watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; over-spraying; hosing hardscapes, such as driveways, sidewalks and patios, and washing vehicles with a hose that does not have a shut off nozzle. Irrigation runoff and runoff from washing vehicles also would be prohibited.
In addition, restrictions include wasting water; running fountains without a re-circulating system and serving water at restaurants unless requested.
The move comes days after the State Water Resources Control Board released updated results from a water-use survey that show water usage rose by 1 percent throughout the state, instead of the 5 percent decrease originally shown.
The report was based on consumption numbers from May of this year compared to previous years.
During the same meeting the survey results were presented, the Board voted to approve fines of up to $500 for individuals caught breaking water regulations.
"Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is ... and how bad it could be," said State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus. "There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state."
Governor Jerry Brown called for a 20 percent voluntary in California in January of this year, with no region reaching the magic number.
According to the survey produced by the Board, the South Coast area increased water usage by 8 percent, while the Sacramento River and North Coast areas decreased usage by 13 and 12 percent, respectively.
No explanation was given on why consumption had increased or decreased in those areas
Santa Monica officials are urging residents to help with the conservation effort through various means.
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, visit sustainablesm.org/rebate.
For tips on saving water, visit sustainablesm.org/water or call (310) 458-8459.
To report water waste, call (310) 458-8984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org