Published: January 15, 2016

    Santa Monica Updates Code to Facilitate Water Conservation

    The drought in California hasn’t let up in four years, and lawmakers and elected local officials are finally taking several key steps toward a sustainable way of living in a drought-stricken environment. Reducing water waste and consumption is priority number one, and many residents in California are now living comfortably after adapting to the new regulations passed by Governor Jerry Brown in March. However, as reservoirs dry up, more cities are stepping up and passing further ordinances to reduce water usage more than ever before.

    Santa Monica, a city within the greater Los Angeles area, is undergoing several changes in its municipal code. The city council voted to pass additional measures that its citizens would be highly affected by. Primarily, the new codes alter requirements for water meters in developments and further restrict landscaping in the area.

    Santa Monica’s city council unanimously voted to forgo the exemption of affordable housing projects when it comes to installing individual water meters in projects with six or fewer dwellings. All affordable housing projects will receive a discount water rate to offset this cost. In addition, an $84,000 cut from the city’s general fund will be allocated toward paying for the installation of submeters in developments that are 100 percent affordable housing projects. These measures will hopefully offset the cost of installing individual meters. The individual water meters will greatly assist in tracking water use in the city.

    Additionally, sprinklers have been banned completely from new developments. Existing developments cannot install new sprinkler systems. New developments cannot plant high-water plants like turf, and high-water plants can only comprise 20 percent of existing property’s landscaping at most. That said, certain areas, like public schools, play areas, and sports fields are generally exempt from these regulations.

    Landscape rebates were expanded by unanimous vote in order to further encourage water-conscious landscaping in Santa Monica. A press release from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment details these new rebates, including up to $4,500 for turf and sprinkler removal and up to $1,500 to replace turf with more environmentally-friendly options.

    These regulations will further reduce the water consumption in the greater LA area, which has greatly contributed to the net 28.1 percent reduction in water usage the state has seen since Governor Brown implemented the sweeping water restrictions. And in the end both the city and citizens alike save money when water usage is monitored. Hopefully Santa Monica can be an example for cities like Beverly Hills that continue to waste water even in the face of the worst drought in 500 years in California.

    You can also make some changes to your yard to make it thoroughly drought-resistant. As Pelican Water previously reported, you can replace grass with drought-tolerant plants such as dymondia margaretae, a gray-leafed ground cover. Concerned citizens can also plant garden strips next to sidewalks to minimize runoff or add mulch below plants to increase water retention. Decide whether the lawn is worth it; many families have swapped to rock gardens and yards to permanently reduce their water usage. Do your part to alleviate the burden of the drought.