Santa Monica Wants to Stop Importing Water by 2020

This is a story about green building practices, conservation, and rainwater capture—not desalinization.

Read Time: 2 minutes

December 14, 2017, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Pacific Ocean

Paper Cat / Shutterstock

Matt Weiser reports on the water conservation efforts of Santa Monica—where the city has pushed on as if the state of California's historic drought never ended. The article includes an in-depth question and answer session with Dean Kubani, chief sustainability officer of Santa Monica.

Kubani describes an approach to water conservation that includes real penalties for exceeding allowances, generous incentives for drought-tolerant landscaping, and a water neutrality ordinance that requires any new development and major renovations not exceed current water usage.

Kubani explains how the city decided to keep those programs in place, even after last year's exceptionally wet rainy season:

So when the state declared the drought was over, Santa Monica chose to keep the water-use allowances, the incentives and everything in place and move forward. And we’re still at 20 percent below our baseline water use, which was set in 2013. 

The city of Santa Monica set a goal to wean itself off imported water by 2020, meaning it would stop using imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California, supplied by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. To increase its local water supplies, Kubani says the city has groundwater wells and is in the process of constructing 6 million gallons of water supply capacity in underground cisterns.

Currently the city is importing 30 percent of its water supply, and Kubani is optimistic the city can reach, or very nearly reach, its goal of ending water imports by 2020.

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