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Santa Monica 'Water Neutrality Ordinance' Takes Effect July 1
City Seeks Water Self-Sufficiency by 2020

On May 9, 2017, the Santa Monica City Council adopted a water neutrality ordinance to keep water usage at current levels, which is the lowest since the early 1990s. The law caps water use for new residential and commercial developments and new or enlarged pools, spas, water features and ponds to the historical five-year average for the site. For example, if a proposed mixed-use development is projected to use 400,000 gallons of water each year and the historical use on the parcel is 150,000 gallons a year, the new development would have to offset 250,000 gallons each year.

Projects in plan check, or that have received a building permit before June 30, 2017, will not have to comply with the new ordinance.

Installation of water-efficient fixtures and systems on site is the most common means to lower water usage. If that isn't possible, or if new construction cannot comply with the ordinance, additional water use must be offset elsewhere in the community. The ordinance does not apply to kitchen and/or bathroom remodels or minor renovations.

The city is providing a fee-based turnkey retrofit program, or the applicant can install retrofits at their own cost in sites selected by them. A consultant will provide design assistance to educate new development applicants about the various water saving devices, such as greywater systems, recirculating hot water systems, irrigation systems, toilets, etc., that would help achieve compliance. For projects required to offset water use, fees will be charged to cover the city's cost.

A water demand calculator is available @

A water fact sheet is available @

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January 22, 2019, 11:53 am PST

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