Fines of up to $10,000 could face Santa Monicans who don’t toe the water-reduction line following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting where new citywide water-reduction policies were adopted.
In response to Council declaring in August a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage, that requires a 20 percent reduction in water use from 2013, City staff updated the City’s Water Shortage Response Plan (WSRP) and presented their recommendations to the Council.
Beginning April 2015, personalized water use allowances will appear on all utility bills, according to the City.
“Allowances will reflect a 20 percent decrease in water use from the same billing period in 2013,” the City stated. “The 20 percent decrease will be applied to all customers – single-family, multi-family, commercial, and landscaping.”
Council passed incentives on Tuesday for those complying with the required reductions, as well as stiff penalties for anyone who overuses water.
“This package of incentives we are providing, along with penalties for those who do not comply, should help us weather the drought and further our goal of being water independent by 2020,” said Dean Kubani, Manager of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
New and enhanced water conservation rebates, and the latest water-saving technologies and resources will be available to help customers meet their reduction goal, the Office of Sustainability explained.
“The most popular rebate, the Sustainable Landscape Rebate, will begin paying $3.50 for each square foot of lawn that is removed and replaced with climate-appropriate plants, mulch and/or drip irrigation. In addition, customers may choose to receive a 2-hour consultation with expert landscape designers for a small fee,” according to the Office of Sustainability.
The new residential water conservation thresholds are: 274 gallons per day or less, 22 HCF as shown on the utility bill, for single-family water customers and 137 gallons per day per unit or less, 11 HCF per unit as shown on the utility bill, for multi-family water customers. One HCF is equal to 748 gallons and is the measurement of water listed on the utility bill.
Customers who are at or below these conservation thresholds on a bi-monthly basis will not be required to reduce a further 20 percent.
On the flipside, non-compliance with the reduced thresholds comes at a hefty price.
Offenders of the new 20-percent-reduced threshold will be charged $10 per HCF used in excess of the water use allowance up to the total bi-monthly water charges or $1,000, whichever is less.
Customers who exceed their water use allowance three times in a one-year period may be required to have a water audit performed by a licensed engineering firm with water audit experience to be paid by the water customer.
Customers who exceed their water use allowance seven or more times may have a flow restrictor installed in the meter which restricts the flow of water going into the building and/or be charged with a civil penalty up to $10,000.
There is no water conservation threshold for commercial customers because of large variations in water use by individual businesses.
The new thresholds aim at reducing water use by 2.2 million gallons a day and will come into effect April this year.
Water customers will have until October 2015, the equivalent of two billing cycles, to make necessary water saving changes to meet their water use allowance targets before penalties are issued.
Residential and commercial water customers may apply for an adjustment to increase their Water Use Allowance if they can demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures to save water and cannot achieve a 20 percent reduction due to financial hardship and/or to prevent an emergency condition related to health and safety.
Starting in March, Water Use Allowance Adjustment Applications will be available on-line at www.smgov.net/water and at the Finance Department’s public counter located at 1717 4th Street.
According to the City, there are easy and practical water-saving measures, rebates, and programs available to help all customers reduce their water use by 20 percent. For more information, visit www.smgov.net/water or call 310.458.2213.
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