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Santa Monica imposing strict water requirements on new developments

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Builders will have to stick to historic water usage levels or pay for new water-saving devices

View of Santa Monica Pedro Szekely | creative commons

The city of Santa Monica is rolling out an ambitious new plan to conserve water as the city continues to develop and expand.

Under the plan, property owners looking to develop or remodel their properties will have to ensure that the finished project won’t require more water than what the property has required on average over the previous five years. That means that installing a new pool, for instance, could get a lot trickier once the new ordinance goes into effect on July 1.

According to city officials, water usage in the city is now at its lowest level since the 1990s. The new rules are meant to keep consumption down in light of “limited groundwater supplies and the uncertain effects of climate change,” according to a city announcement.

The new requirements won’t apply to every bathroom update or small renovation project. Instead, they’ll only be enforced for major remodels and new construction. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, about 75 percent of projects affected by the new rules will be new single-family residences and large-scale renovation projects.

Property owners with plans that would require an increase in water use can still go forward with those projects under the new rules, but will have to offset the new level of consumption—either by installing water-saving devices at the property or paying into a city program to install such fixtures and appliances at other properties. As the Daily Press reports, the city has already created a waitlist of properties where the water-saving devices can be installed.