Even as the recent 15-day watering ban in LA county ended earlier than scheduled last week, water – specifically lack of water – remains a top concern for many city officials. However, Santa Monica Water Resource Manager Sunny Wang reported to the planning commission last week that unlike some nearby municipalities, Santa Monica’s is on track to maintain the stability of the city’s water supply and eventually make the city self-sufficient in terms of water.
A new report is accusing the regional board that regulates the quality of Los Angeles’s water of not taking enough action against cities and industrial facilities that pollute coastal waters and inland watersheds. When it rains in a city like Los Angeles that is largely paved over, the water passes over streets and sidewalks, collecting bacteria, trash, metals, herbicide and other pollutants, eventually draining into rivers and the ocean.
The WateReuse Association, California chapter named the City of Malibu the 2019 “Recycled Water Agency of the Year” for its Civic Center Water Treatment Facility (CCWTF), which was completed and started processing wastewater into clean, recycled water for irrigation in October, 2018. “The City of Malibu and its people have always defined themselves as innovators of environmental protections and programs,” said Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner. “Our new water treatment facility puts us ahead of the curve of smart, environmentally sound water management practices while combating the realities of climate change and drought here in California.”
Water rates will go up nine percent in 2019 as the City of Santa Monica embarks on several projects to wean itself off of imported water. City Council is expected to approve the rate hike at its Tuesday meeting. The average single-family home customer will pay about $4.33 more per month for water to fund the design of a larger, more efficient water treatment plant, the purchase of a new well and the cost of replacing the city’s aging water mains, said chief sustainability officer Dean Kubani. The rate increase will go into effect retroactively on Jan. 1.
Santa Monica is three years behind schedule for water independence due to delays in obtaining permits for some of the proposed plans. The city is using about 20 percent less imported water than it did in 2011, when City Council set a goal of achieving water self-sufficiency by 2020. At a recent Council meeting, staff said changes to state laws have also presented a challenge. Staff has redesigned parts of the plan because new state regulations require the removal of certain chemicals from drinking water making treatment more difficult and expensive, said Alex Navarchuk, the City’s principal engineer.
The City of Santa Monica has temporarily outlawed construction of new private wells in the city while staff work towards adoption of a new set of rules governing the use of groundwater. Council approved a measure banning new construction or expansion of existing wells at their August 14 meeting until the City adopts a comprehensive groundwater management plan that specifically allows such construction. A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is required by California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and Santa Monica is in the midst of drafting the rules in partnership with City of Culver City, City of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the County of Los Angeles.