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Santa Monica’s Water Allotments May Not Be Enough

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

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

April 6, 2015 -- Santa Monica will revisit its timeline for implementing mandatory residential water allowances in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order last week calling for statewide reductions of 25 percent, City officials announced.

In January 2014, Brown asked Californians to voluntarily cut water usage by 20 percent. Santa Monica officials responded by imposing Stage 2 mandatory restrictions, including banning hosing down driveways and over-watering landscape, and barring sprinklers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Local water officials also were gearing up to implement mandatory water allowances this month.

Now, however, it’s “unknown whether these recently adopted water allowances will need to be altered” to meet the governor’s new 25-percent goal, said Dean Kubani, manager of the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment.  

Officials may have to change the timeline for implementing water allocations and also for penalties -- which were set to kick in this August -- customers could face for exceeding their allocations.

And even stronger water-saving measures might be needed, Kubani said.

“Santa Monica will fully cooperate in the state’s water conservation efforts and if necessary, the City will implement additional water conservation measures and adjust water allocations once state restrictions are established,” he said.

Local officials were awaiting direction from the State Water Resources Control Board on “what specific water conservation measures urban water agencies like the City of Santa Monica must undertake to achieve 25 percent reduction in water use,” Kubani said.

State Water Resources Control Board officials were not immediately available to comment on this story.

A recent “report card” issued by the state that rated cities’ water savings showed that Santa Monica residents reduced their consumption by 16 percent last year, but below Brown’s 20 percent goal (See “Santa Monica Residents’ Water Conservation Not Enough,” March 4, 2015).

In January, Santa Monica residents on average used 75 gallons of water per person per day, more than the average statewide residential water consumption of 72.6 gallons per person per day in January, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Santa Monica was not alone, however, as most cities in the state also failed to reduce consumption by 20 percent, according to the state water board.

In response, last month the state board extended and expanded several mandatory water restrictions imposed last summer. The new regulations were backed by fines that can go as high as $500 per violation.

Among the new rules introduced March 17, restaurants no longer can serve customers water unless they ask for it, and hotels must post signs telling guests they have the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily (See “Santa Monica Ahead of State in Curbs on Water Use,” March 18, 2015).

As of January this year, 95 percent of the state’s water agencies had imposed mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering, which accounts for most of the water used by residents, up to 80 percent in some cities, state officials said.

But a survey released by The Associated Press last month found that few water agencies in California had actually imposed fines on water-wasters.

While the city awaits further direction from the state, Kubani said residents can act now to save water by tapping into City conservation programs such as the Sustainable Landscape Rebate, which reimburses residents $3.50 for each square foot of lawn they replace with climate-appropriate plants and City-specified drip irrigation.

The City also will begin offering two-hour landscape design consultations with a professional landscape designer for a small fee. That program is set to start April 15, Kubani said.

Free water-use consultations also are available to residents and businesses. A City water conservation expert will check for leaks and provide recommendations and resources, he said.

“This package of incentives the City is providing supports the governor’s mandatory conservation goals and helps us weather the statewide drought while bringing us closer to Santa Monica’s water independence by 2020,” said Kubani.

For more information about water-saving programs and rebates, call 310-458-8972, or visit

The program is the City’s most popular voluntary water-saving tool, Kubani said.

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