Water Conservation

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Drought Response

On November 24th, a community forum was held at the Ken Edwards Center giving businesses and residents an opportunity to learn about the City's Water Shortage Response Plan from City staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

1. Why is Santa Monica in a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage?

California is in the midst of an historic drought which has necessitated reducing water usage. Seventy percent of the city’s water supply comes from local underground aquifers that recharge from rain. This continued drought is impacting these supplies as well as imported water. In order to adequately conserve water, Santa Monica has declared a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage.

2. What is a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage?

A mandatory 20% reduction in water use from 2013.

3. How long will Santa Monica be in a Stage 2 water shortage?

Santa Monica will remain in a Stage 2 water shortage for as long as necessary. Stage 2 was established by City Council Resolution, and this can change per City Council direction.

4. If the drought continues or gets worse, will the water restrictions be increased?

There are currently no plans to increase water restrictions.

5. What is an HCF?

An HCF, or hundred cubic feet (of water) is how many water agencies calculate your water use and the measurement listed on your bill. One HCF is equal to 748 gallons of water.


Water Use Allowances and Thresholds

1. How are Water Use Allowances determined and how will I find out my allowance?

Water Use Allowances are calculated as 20% below 2013 water use for each individual bi-monthly billing cycle. Billing cycles are about 56-64 days. When you receive your water bill, your estimated Water Use Allowance for the upcoming bi-monthly billing cycle will be included.

2. When will the Water Use Allowances go into effect?

Water Use Allowances will begin to be distributed in April 2015. Customers will receive their first Water Use Allowance notice on the first water bill that they receive either during or after April. Penalties will begin to accumulate in August 2015 and will begin to appear on water bills in October 2015.

3. What if I was already conserving water in 2013? Do I have to make additional cutbacks in water use?

Residential customers who have already lowered their water use to below a specified threshold will be rewarded by not being required to conserve additional water. For example, if single family customers average less than 274 gallons of water use per day, they will not be required to use less water. Multi-family customers that use less than 137 gallons per day will also be exempt.

4. Why is 2013 being used as the baseline year instead of 2014?

Research conducted during the development of the Sustainable Water Master Plan showed that years prior to 2013 had lower water use due primarily to the economic recession. Calendar year 2013 represents more typical water use in Santa Monica during a stronger economy.

5. How will I know my Water Use Allowance and whether or not I’m adhering to my allowance?

Your Water Use Allowance will be on your bill. If you exceed your Water Use Allowance you will be notified on your bill; however, the penalty will be mailed separately.

6. What can I do if I have made attempts to save water, but I cannot achieve a 20% reduction?

If a customer can demonstrate that they have taken all necessary measures to save water and cannot achieve the 20% reduction due to financial hardship and/or to prevent an emergency condition related to health and safety, they may apply for an adjustment to increase their water use allowance.

7. Why are there no water conservation thresholds for commercial customers?

Due to the large variation in size, business type and corresponding water use, it is not feasible to set a commercial water conservation threshold.



1. How are penalties calculated and assessed?

Penalties are calculated at $10 per HCF that a customer exceeds their Water Use Allowance for a given bi-monthly billing period. The penalty cannot exceed the total water charges or $1,000, whichever is less.

The Rent Control Board will discuss options for landlords to pass penalty charges to renters.

2. Are there additional penalties for continually exceeding the Water Use Allowances?

If a customer exceeds their Water Use Allowance three times in a one year period, they may be required to have a water audit performed by a licensed engineering firm with water audit experience. This will be paid for by the customer. If a customer exceeds their Water Use Allowance seven or more times they may have a flow restrictor installed in the meter and/or be charged with a civil penalty up to $10,000.


Water Saving Measures

1. How can I save water and avoid penalties?

Customers may conduct an easy self-audit but may also request a free water audit. There are also easy and practical water-savings measures, including using water-efficient hardware which is eligible for rebates. See www.sustainablesm.org/rebate for more information on rebates.

2. How can I report someone who is wasting water? Can I do this anonymously?

To report someone who is wasting water you can email code.compliance@smgov.net or call (310) 458-4984 with an address, the violation, date and time. This report can be made anonymously.

3. What is the City doing to conserve water?

The City is working to use water more efficiently. Landscapes are now being irrigated based on Irrigation Association’s Best Management Practices and staff is being required to notify the appropriate City department immediately of any leaks seen on City or private property.

4. Are other cities in California taking similar measures?

The California State Water Board has imposed restrictions across all of California. These restrictions are mandatory and represent the minimum required standard for water conservation in California. Several cities, including Santa Monica, have chosen to implement stricter restrictions in order to properly manage local water shortages.

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