What is this indicator?

This indicator measures the percent of total water in Santa Monica that is sourced locally. Local water refers to water that is sourced within the City of Santa Monica. Imported water comes from anywhere beyond the city’s borders, including distant watersheds in California and throughout the Western United States. 

Why is this important?

Looking to its future, the City hopes to eliminate its dependence on imported water by addressing the challenge of existing groundwater quality, identifying new sources of local water supply, and more effectively reducing and managing its water demands.

With an adopted goal of water self-sufficiency achieved by eliminating reliance on Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) supply by 2023, the City of Santa Monica developed a Sustainable Water Master Plan focused on reducing water demand and enhancing local water supply production capabilities.

Achieving 100% water self-sufficiency means closing the gap that exists between total water demand and total water available locally. This gap of 6,500 acre-feet per year (AFY) may be reduced by a combination of maximizing the use of groundwater resources at a sustainable level, increasing water conservation efforts, capturing and using rainwater and dry-weather runoff, and reusing greywater. It may also require enhanced water recycling efforts and reuse of wastewater and other innovations.

As state water supplies drop and the current drought continues, increasing the percentage of water that comes from local sources is an important step towards water self-sufficiency.

How are we doing?

In an effort to merge these elements toward realizing self-sufficiency, the City developed the Sustainable Water Master Plan in 2014 and updated in 2019. The master plan serves as a strategic review and forecast of the city’s water supply and demand picture, as well as an “umbrella” plan to amalgamate existing strategies.

Previous groundwater pollution from underground gasoline tanks in the mid-1990’s left Santa Monica highly dependent on high-priced water from MWD. Since then, the Charnock Wells have been restored and were reopened following remediation in 2010. The new plant allows the substitution of more cost effective locally-produced water, thereby reducing the expense and energy use associated with imported water. As of December 2018, the city produces 65% of its water supply from local groundwater wells and imports the remaining 35% from MWD. Local water production has increased substantially since 2010, but this area needs continued improvement in order to meet the 100% local water target by 2023.

Santa Monica’s most promising solutions for reducing imported water are through expanded stormwater and rainwater capture. Rainwater harvesting is a less reliable option due to the cistern size requirements and lack of incentive for residential installation.

Preliminary recommendations from the Sustainable Water Master Plan for expanding groundwater resources include:

  • Expansion of the existing Arcadia Water Treatment Plant.
  • Design and construct the new Olympic Water Treatment Plant (Gillette/Boeing Settlement Project).
  • Rehabilitate old wells and drill additional new wells in the Olympic, Charnock and Coastal Sub-basins.
  • Develop and implement improvements in treatment efficiency to reduce the amount of water lost to brine disposal during treatment (reduction of brine water losses beyond the current 18%).

How can we help?

  • Review City strategies to become water self-sufficient in the Sustainable Water Master Plan.
  • Replace old toilets and showerheads with high-efficiency appliances. Toilet rebates are available and the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment provides free faucet aerators and showerheads. Call 310-458-8972.
  • Replace your lawn and parkways with drought-tolerant landscaping. Sign up for a Landscape Design Consultation and apply for a Cash for Grass Rebate
  • Use drip irrigation or weather-based irrigation controllers to adjust irrigation based on weather conditions. Rebates are available.
  • Find more water-saving tips at smgov.net/water.