Resource Conservation Sustainable City Progress Report Resource Conservation

Water Use

RC2_Chart1_Small     RC2_Chart2_Small RC2_Chart3_Small  
Citywide Water Usage
Percentage: Local Vs Imported Water
Water Use by Sector
as Percentage of Total Usage 2011


Citywide Water Use, Percent Local vs. Imported & Potable vs. Non-potable


Sustainable water consumption means using water no more quickly than the rate at which it is restored. As a city, Santa Monica could be completely sustainable if it were able to supply all of its water needs from local well sources indefinitely. Reducing water consumption per capita and increasing the percentage of water that comes from local sources are two important steps toward sustainability.

In order to measure progress towards the stated goals, this indicator looks at total citywide water use, the percent of water that is local versus the percent imported from distant watersheds in California and the Western United States. Finally, it examines the amount of water that is potable versus non-potable.

The target for consumption is to reduce overall water use by 20% of 2000 levels by 2010. In 2000, water use was 13.4 million gallons per day (MGD); a twenty percent reduction of that usage is 10.7 MGD.  The city aimed to increase the amount of locally obtained potable water to its 1995 high point of 70% of total water use by the year 2010 but did not obtain that objective due to the issues discussed below in the Analysis.  The city is also working to maximize non-potable water use when appropriate.


Citywide Water Consumption
In 2010-11, the city has continued with relatively low levels of water use, despite the resurgence in the economy.  The drop during that time was from 11.9 to 11.7 million gallons per day. It’s still a remarkable decrease from the 2006 high point of 13.8 Million gallons per day, a 15% drop. 

Meeting the Indicator goal to reduce overall water use by to 20% of the 2000 baseline (to 10.5 MGD) proved unattainable, given continued development and increasing daytime population.  As indicators and targets are updated, these factors will be taken into consideration.  Still this consistent drop during all seasons of the year shows that the city’s water conservation efforts are paying off. 

Local vs. Imported Water
The percentage of local vs. imported water rose between 2009 and 2011 from 20% to 51% of total water supply.  See Analysis below for an explanation of this change. 

Potable Water Use
Santa Monica Urban Runoff & Recycling Facility (SMURRF) produces non-potable water for use in landscape irrigation, at city parks and cemeteries, toilet flushing and in some city fountains. Sales of recycled water from the SMURRF remained relatively steady at 25 million gallons for all of 2011, nearly 1% of water use. For residents and businesses to take further advantage of this reclaimed water requires more infrastructure than is currently in place.  


  • The average American uses 168 gallons of water per day.  The average person in Santa Monica uses 120 gallons of water per day.
  • The City of Santa Monica operates its own water utility.  Of the 12.6 million gallons used per day, approximately 25
  • % is consumed by single-family units, 48% by multi-family units, and 27% by commercial users.


Citywide Water Use
Numerous conservation messages and programs initiated in 2009 are helping to keep customers informed of water conservation efforts and the need to continue water saving practices. In addition, enforcement of the Water Conservation Ordinance has increased, with first time offenders being provided information about the advisory and compliance tips in both English and Spanish. For more information visit

Local vs. Imported Water
In 1995, Santa Monica’s local groundwater wells supplied most of the water used in the city. In the mid-1990’s, the combination of leaking underground gasoline storage tanks and the addition of MTBE as an oxygenate in gasoline led to massive contamination of Santa Monica’s Charnock well field . The groundwater pollution left Santa Monica almost completely reliant on high priced MWD water imported from the Sacramento Delta and the Colorado River.  After the contamination 1996 incident, the city of Santa Monica settled agreements with the oil companies accountable for the leaks.  The proceeds from that settlement have been used to remove any future threats of MtBE pollution by restoring the Charnock Wells which were re-opened following remediation during 2010.

The city now produces roughly 50% of its water supply from groundwater wells and imports the remaining 50% from MWD.  This new plant allows the substitution of more cost effective locally produced water, thereby reduces the expense and energy use associated with imported water.






Ensure intra city compliance with water regulations, while enforcing regulations for water conservation in irrigation of residences and businesses. Check the OSE website's Water section  for tips on water conservation.    


View source material in Excel: RC2_WaterUse.xls
Email contact for data source inquires: 
Last updated: Monday, 07/07/2014
City of Santa Monica © 2016

Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626