By Daniel Larios
September 3, 2014 – In the midst of one of California’s hardest hitting droughts in more than 100 years, the message of water conservation is being spouted not only by City officials, but also by prehistoric beasts.
Last Thursday, Downtown Santa Monica Inc. (DTSM), which oversees Santa Monica’s iconic Third Street Promenade, announced that the outdoor shopping mall’s iconic dinosaur fountains have been shut down.
“The drought is a serious threat and we must be careful about every drop of water we use,” said Kathleen Rawson, the non-profit agency’s president and CEO.
While the fountains pull from a pool of recycled water, Downtown officials have decided to use the fountains as a visual reminder that California is undergoing a water shortage and everyone, even giant reptiles from the Jurassic period, need to make efforts to conserve water.
The closing of the fountains is just one of several water reducing measures the agency is taking.
“We have eliminated pressure washing in the parking structure, replacing that with methods that use far less water, and hope shutting down the fountains can serve as an effective public service message,” said Rawson. “Every little bit helps.”
This marks the first time the fountains have been shut down for an extended period of time since they were placed on the Promenade when it opened in 1989.
Designed by Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, the dinosaur fountains were installed after the City’s Arts Commission held an international arts competition.
Images of proposed art projects were displayed in storefront windows, and the public was asked to vote. In the end, everyone agreed on the topiary dinosaur fountains.
Initially, the dinosaurs on either side of Arizona Avenue spewed fire from their mouths at night, a feature that was short-lived after the City’s risk management stepped in.
The decision to close the fountains comes two weeks after the Santa Monica City Council initiated Stage 2 of the City’s Water Shortage Response Plan, which places tougher restrictions on water use for both residents and businesses. (“Santa Monica Clamps Down on Water Use,” August 14, 2014)
During Stage 2, water allowances are 68 gallons of water per person per day. The average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Stage 2 also boosts enforcement of water use restrictions.
The restrictions 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.
Other restrictions include wasting water; running fountains without a re-circulating system and serving water at restaurants unless requested.
Santa Monica officials are urging residents to take advantage of rebates available for “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 that implement water-saving measures.
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.