Santa Monica residents continue to turn off the tap, despite the recent rainy weather and news of the drought tapering off in Northern California. In December, the Southern California City managed 23 percent savings in water production compared with the year before, putting the city’s cumulative savings at 20 percent. When paired with four inches of rainfall (that’s double the monthly average), it was a very good month for the City’s water conservation efforts.

And the rain continues: between Jan. 1 and Jan. 11 Santa Monica received 1.48 inches of rain, putting the City on the way toward reaching the monthly average of 2.84 inches. December and January typically kick off the rainy season here with February being the wettest month, averaging 3.44 inches of rain, according to NOAA.

While Los Angeles remains exceptionally dry, less than 60 percent of California is in a drought for the first time since April 2013. A parade of Pacific storms have filled rivers, dropped snow in the Sierras and filled major reservoirs in Northern California, effectively ending the drought for those areas.

“Bye bye Drought. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” tweeted the National Weather Service’s Reno location Thursday, sharing a photo of drastically improved drought conditions in Nevada. The Los Angeles office tweeted “A good start but still a long way to go.”

Despite all the good news, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment is keeping drought restrictions in place in Santa Monica. Since the program started in March of 2015, the City has issued 629 penalties to customers who exceeded their Water Use. That includes last November when customers got a break for citations because the staff person authorized to write the tickets left her job. Since then the position has been filled and the City is back to issuing citations.

“We focus on the top water users in all the various sectors and we’ve been getting a very positive response,” Dean Kuboni, Chief Sustainability Officer, said. “People have been surprisingly receptive.”

Businesses and residents who receive at ticket can have the fine waived if they have a city water auditor come out to their property and make recommendations on how they can cut down on their usage. Kuboni says the program is working out well. The City has no plans to release the list of customers who have gone over their limits.

Governor Jerry Brown lifted state mandatory water conservation requirements back in May of last year. Water use in Santa Monica began trending upward, but leveled off at about 20 percent savings.

The City relies on local groundwater sources for 80 percent of the water supply. It can take more than six months to see measurable impacts on aquifer levels after rainy days.

kate@smdp.com

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