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Santa Monica Launches Program to Cap Water Use
By Lookout Staff
June 14, 2017 -- A new Santa Monica law that caps water use for developments to the historical use levels for the site will go into effect July 1, City officals said this week.
Approved by the City Council on May 9, the Water Neutrality Ordinance -- which caps water use to the site's historical five-year average -- is part of the City's strategy to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2020, officials said.
"Keeping water usage at today’s level, the lowest since the early 1990s, will help the community better manage its limited groundwater supplies and the uncertain effects of climate change," City officials said in a statement this week.
The law covers new residential and commercial developments and new or enlarged pools, spas, water features and ponds.
The ordinance does not apply to kitchen or bathroom remodels or minor renovations, officials said.
"If a proposed mixed-use development is projected to use 400,000 gallons of water each year and the historical use on the parcel is 150,000 gallons a year, the new development would have to offset 250,000 gallons each year," officials said.
This can be achieved by installing water saving devices and systems, such as greywater systems, recirculating hot water systems, irrigation systems and low-flush toilets.
"If this isn’t possible, and the building doesn’t comply with the law, the additional water use must be offset elsewhere in the community," officials said.
In that case, the applicant has two options to offset the use:
Pay an in-lieu fee (based on how much water needs to be saved), which would be used to install systems in properties listed by the City, or
Find properties and perform the installations, which would be inspected by the City.
Applicants will be required to determine their water demand using a calculator available online at the end of June at sustainablesm.org/water.
All projects in plan check, or that have received a building permit before June 30, will not need to comply with the new law.
The City Council established a Water Neutrality Stakeholder Committee "comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders" to help develop the ordinance, officials said.
“We listened to our constituents and experts in order to craft something bold and effective to help ensure there is plenty of water for future generations of Santa Monicans,” said Kim O’Cain, Senior Sustainability Analyst.
For more information or to get on the list to receive new water-saving devices, visit sustainablesm.org/water. Read an FAQ sheet for more details or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-458-8972 ext. 2.
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