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Santa Monica Takes Another Step Towards Water Self-sufficiency

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

August 31,2015 -- Santa Monica moved closer to eliminating its dependence on imported water by 2020 after the City Council last week approved a nearly $2 million contract to hire a groundwater geologist for up to five years.

The contractor, Richard C. Slade & Associates, LLC, (RCS) will identify locations for new water wells, design and oversee their construction and provide general support services, in addition to analyzing the perennial yield of the water basin, according to City staff.

City water officials estimate reaching the City's goal will require the construction of a new well at a cost of $1,120,600 and, perhaps, a second well, which would boost the total cost to $1,860,000.

The new well would deliver a reliable water supply to the City's new treatment plant being planned in the Olympic sub basin.

The project, staff wrote, would “ensure that the construction of new wells balance the City’s goals of managing contamination, avoiding significant drawdown of existing aquifers, and producing high-quality potable water in the volume required to serve the City’s population of residents, businesses, and visitors.”

The contractor would use a conceptual model it has already developed to determine “groundwater flow directions, volumes, and probable perennial yield for the five sub basins of the Santa Monica Groundwater Basin,” staff said.

Santa Monica currently purchases most of its water from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), which relies on locally pumped groundwater and imported water from Northern California or the Colorado River,  officials have said.

By producing its own water, instead of purchasing MWD treated water, the City could cut its water cost by more than half, officials have said.

In addition to new water sources, the City is encouraging residents to cut down on their water use and to rely more on recycled water, greywater, rainwater and storm water, especially for outdoor uses.

Last month, residential water users continued to meet the conservation levels set by the state, according to  figures released by the state Water Resources Control Board last Thursday. (“Santa Monicans Beat Water Conservation Goal,” August 28, 2015)

Individually, each of the City's 93,283 residential customers on average used 102 gallons of water per person each day in July, surpassing the City's “conservation standard” of 20 percent by more than 3 percent, officials said.

Water use, however, was up from June's total of 100 gallons per resident each day, figures showed.

RCS – which completed a detailed groundwater resource assessment for the City in 2013 – was one of three firms that responded to Santa Monica's Request for Proposal, according to staff.

The firm was the low bidder and best qualified to provide the necessary services at a competitive cost, staff said.

“Additionally, of the three firms that submitted proposals, RCS was the only firm that exhibited detailed experience in the design and construction of potable water production wells,” staff wrote in its report to the Council.

Funds for the contract will come from the City's current Capital Improvement Program budget, City officials said.

A review of services will be conducted annually but the term of this agreement shall not exceed five years, unless approved by the Council, staff said.

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