While Santa Monica and the rest of California desperately needs rain, one negative side effect of Friday's showers is urban runoff that flows from the storm drain at the end of Pico Boulevard brings with it garbage from inland communities. (Kevin Herrera kevinh@www.smdp.com)

CITYWIDE — Yes it rained all day Tuesday and Wednesday but no, you shouldn’t go back to watering your sidewalks and driveways or having high-volume water balloon fights.

It turns out the impacts of the storm — the first significant rainfall in months — were pretty minimal, for Santa Monica at least.

The Santa Monica Mountains, from which the city by the sea draws its water, got about an inch and a half of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Other areas in Southern California saw upwards of four inches of rain.

City Hall relies on the aquifers in the mountains to the north because most of Santa Monica is paved, which makes it harder to capture water. City officials don’t yet know how many gallons were brought into Santa Monica’s coffers.

“It really is too early to tell and honestly it was a small amount of rain in the big picture,” said Water Resource Manager Gil Borboa.

He continued: “The precipitation in one year, to get out of the drought, would have to be 150 percent of what the normal precipitation is for the rain gages that are measured for that purpose in the state.”

In this case, the value of the storm was more in what it could do for water usage rather than what will do to restore our water collection.

“It’s not to say it didn’t help,” Borboa said. “It did help. For one thing, it was enough rain to really soak everything and people don’t need to actually water their landscape or their lawns for a good week. We hope that has some translation into more water conservation.”

City Hall is still in the process of formulating its mandatory water cuts, which could go into effect early next year.

The storm caused mudslides on the Pacific Coast Highway well north of Santa Monica and flooding in other parts of the state but had little impact on Santa Monica.

“We have not had any big issues as a result of this storm,” said Director of Public Works Martin Pastucha. “Some minor concerns with sloughing on the bluff at Palisades Park and we have closed off some areas near bluffs as a precaution. Some minor flooding under the pier and the 1550 Parking Lot, but the water is being pumped out of there slowly. Storm drains are flowing fine and no major issues.”

City Hall was prepared for the storm, he said.

“We have our areas to monitor so it is just a minor refocus during the event,” Pastucha said, “but all of our systems are cleaned and checked prior to start of rain season to insure that when rain comes there are no major surprises.”

Last year was one of the driest in recorded history for the L.A.-area. This year hasn’t been much better.

In response, Gov. Jerry Brown declared an official drought and asked, along with City Hall, for a 20 percent reduction in water usage. Code Compliance announced earlier this year that its officers would be cracking down on landscape-related water violations.

Santa Monica gets about 80 percent of its water locally and buys the rest from the Metropolitan Water District, which draws its water from the Colorado River and Northern California.

City Hall aims to be fully water self-sufficient by 2020.

“It’s certainly a relief to get some rain,” Borboa said. “I hope that it portends well for more rainstorms that come along this winter.”


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