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Water Neutrality in Santa Monica

The City of Santa Monica is taking a bold step forward in water conservation. The city has established a new Water Neutrality Ordinance that will take effect on July 1st, 2017.

The ordinance will only apply to new developments or existing developments that undergo large-scale remodeling. This ordinance takes a five-year historical average of a site’s water use and sets that baseline as the site’s annual water budget. These new projects must stay within the established baseline for that parcel of land. If it is determined that the new development will use more water than the historical budget, the developers must offset this increased amount of water use in order to keep the project water-neutral.

For example, if the water use for the new development is calculated to use 500,000 gallons annually but the historical usage is only 300,000 gallons, then the developers would have to reduce annual usage somewhere else in the city by 200,000 gallons. One way of doing this would be to pay the city to install high-efficiency toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads somewhere else in Santa Monica.

Another option would be for the developers to identify potential sites in Santa Monica to retrofit themselves. The developer would have to get the permit for these new installs and then have each device inspected once installed.

Santa Monica is doing this in order to help reach their goal of water self-sufficiency by 2020. This ordinance will be implemented in conjunction with new policies that seek to eliminate imported water. The ultimate goal of the City of Santa Monica is to meet their water need exclusivley through local sources.

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