What is this indicator?

This indicator measures the amount of non-potable water used in Santa Monica by millions of gallons per year (MGY). Non-potable water is water that has not been treated to drinking water standards and/or approved for drinking, but can be used for other purposes such as washing and irrigation depending on its quality. It’s often referred to as recycled or reclaimed water. 

Why is it important?

The City of Santa Monica (City) supplies imported and local water to approximately 92,000 residents covering an area of approximately 8 square miles. Looking to its future, the City hopes to eliminate its reliability 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 retained Kennedy/Jenks Consultants to develop a Sustainable Water Master Plan. This Master Plan addresses supply and demand management options to cost effectively reduce future water demands and enhance local water supply production capabilities.

The majority of water used in Santa Monica is treated to potable quality, including water that flushes our toilets and irrigates our lawns. This level of treatment for non-potable purposes is unnecessary and unsustainable, particularly in times of low water supply such as a drought. Replacing some of the unnecessary uses of potable water with non-potable sources will help sustain critical water resources.

How are we doing?

In 2018, the total amount of non-potable water used was 51.9 million gallons (MG) compared to 24.50 MG in 2010.
Santa Monica Urban Runoff & Recycling Facility (SMURRF) produces non-potable water for use in landscape irrigation, at city parks and cemeteries, toilet flushing and in some city fountains, but this water only accounts for approximately 1% of total water use (25 MG).
Designed to routinely treat 0.5 million gallons daily (MGD), with a peak treatment capacity of 0.75 MGD, the SMURRF removes urban contaminants and treats the influent water. The water is then pumped through a separate water distribution system to serve a number of parks, medians, Woodlawn Cemetery and several water accounts with dual-plumbed buildings for toilet flushing and irrigation.
The SMURRF has allowed the City to slightly reduce its reliance upon MWD water at a time when the City relied heavily upon imported water due to the lack of production from groundwater wells. However, since dry weather urban runoff is an unstable supply, the focus of this facility has been predominantly water quality improvements to Santa Monica Bay. Historically, SMURRF has had an average production of 154 acre-foot per year (AFY), with a high of 354 AF and a low of 94 AF. For residents and businesses to take further advantage of this reclaimed water, more infrastructure is required than is currently in place. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, approximately equivalent to a football field covered one foot deep in water.
Current efforts to increase the use of non-potable water include identifying feasible non-potable water storage facilities to expand the operational capabilities of SMURRF and encouraging the expansion of a regional non-potable distribution system currently operated by a neighboring agency.

How can we help?