First the bad news: The Santa Monica City Council recently voted to raise water rates by approximately 60 percent, to be phased in over the next few years. Now the good news: The City has set aside approximately $500,000 to assist property owners in the installation of water-saving irrigation and other landscape conservation improvements. According to Kim O’Cain, Water Resources Specialist for the City, the rebates are available for, “…efficient irrigation systems, run-off capture, and climate appropriate plants.” So far approximately 50 property owners have taken advantage of the fund.
Additional details about the rebate program can be found at the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment website, smepd.org. The site notes that, on average, landscaping accounts for 50-60 percent of residential water use. O’Cain observes that many of the eligible landscaping water conservation tactics offer “…a quick fix with long-term benefits.”
To better familiarize residents with the virtues of low water use landscaping, the City has set up side-by-side demonstration front yards at 1718 and 1724 Pearl Street, on the SMC campus. The home at 1718 includes traditional plantings such as lawn and rose bushes, both heavy water consumers. The home at 1724 has low volume irrigation and plants naturally adapted to our Mediterranean climate zone. A second display area of drought resistant “xeriscape” plants can be found at the entrance of City Hall.