A county-wide initiative was launched Tuesday in Santa Monica, revealing the latest plan for on-site alternate water supplies.
The event saw collaboration between being the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, TreePeople, Heal the Bay, and Natural Resources Defense Council.
“In a time of severe drought, creating the next generation of water reuse projects is critical: more decentralized water supply systems to promote water self-sufficiency / sustainability, and to reduce potable water use,” organizers said.
An early morning tour of Santa Monica sites demonstrated success with on-site water sources: a new Expo Line station with a cistern that will collect water for irrigation and equipment parts cleaning; the Loews Hotel’s graywater laundry water recycling system; and the Penmar Water Quality Improvement Project, the largest stormwater cistern in L.A. County.
The initiative was launched at the Santa Monica’s Pico Branch Library, which boasts an underground cistern project that supplies water for indoor toilet flushing.
With Southern California still importing 80 percent of its water, the release of the new multi-agency approved roadmap know as Matrix 2.0 hopes to be a key piece of the puzzle in creating the next generation of a sustainable water supply.
The roadmap is aimed at giving municipalities, businesses and homeowners clear guidelines on how they can significantly contribute to L.A. County’s water management and planning through the use of non-potable water both outdoors and indoors.
“We are very excited about this next phase,” said Terri Williams, Acting Director of Environmental Health for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “One of our roles as the Dept. of Public Health is to ensure the safe use of alternate water sources (AWS) by ensuring that such systems are designed and operated in a manner to deliver appropriate water quality.”
“With Matrix 2.0, we want to change the conversation from ‘Will you allow the use of AWS on this project?’ to ‘How can we safely use AWS on this project?’” Williams said.
The new Santa Monica City Services Building is a shining example of great AWS use according to Williams.
The voluntary guidelines for non-potable water use are a first of their kind for L.A. County, and possibly across the state of California.
· Provides governments with a real, tangible standard to follow for collection and treatment, giving the public a way to design a non-potable water system that can actually be approved for use.
· Safeguards the public health while promoting decentralized, on-site alternative water use.
· Establishes monitoring and testing parameters to ensure a system functions over time.
· Compliments standards found in the NPDES Clean Water Act permit and EWMPS (enhanced watershed management plans) water quality standards through the use of non-potable water.
· Develops a simple, effective process of approving plans and inspecting systems to encourage the public to build the systems, and allow jurisdictions to approve them.
· Save money and energy resources by expanding use of alternate water to indoor uses, in addition to outdoor use.
· Harvest rainwater on-site to eliminate runoff, which carries pollution to the ocean.
“We are in a long-term water crisis, as well as a short-term drought emergency, so it’s vital that our cities and property owners share stewardship in developing alternative, non-potable, on-site water supplies and uses that can reduce the need for expensive new potable water,” said TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis.
“Matrix 2.0 represents a watershed moment in the evolution of southern California green building, and the library’s cistern is a perfect example,” added Joel Cesare, Sustainable Building Advisor for the City of Santa Monica. “No longer will building projects be hindered by regulatory gaps or enforcement inconsistency with regards to alternate water reuse strategies. Our challenge is clear: we live in a growing region where the resource of water is only becoming scarcer. This groundbreaking, inter-agency effort will unlock innovation and create design opportunities so our buildings can be dramatically more resilient and water efficient.”