The city’s proposed drought surcharge is all stick and no carrot. And when it comes to those of us who live in single-family homes, the stick is actually a club.

On Tuesday night City Council will vote on the proposed “Water Shortage Response Plan” that is expected to impact 60% of single-family homes. (The threshold set for multi-family customers is anticipated to impact only 20% of those households.)

Each single family home will be limited to a “conservation threshold” of 22 HCF (Hundred Cubic Feet) of water for every two month billing period, if the Council approves the plan, regardless of how many children you have or any other factor. My small household of two uses 31 HCF every two months and this is the case even during the cool winter and after taking advantage of the city’s “Cash for Grass Program,” removing half of our lawn and replacing it with decomposed granite.

What will large families do?

The staff proposal offers cold comfort: the penalty per billing period has been capped – at $1,000. If you exceed the limit seven or more times, the staff propose to install a flow restrictor on your home and/or charge you with a civil penalty of $10,000.

No one doubts that the drought requires we all conserve water, but the city should set up a program where everyone can be successful. Instead of waiting until later to address whether new development will be limited in order to conserve water for existing residents, the entire plan as a whole should be laid out now, with equity and consideration for the entire community.

Tricia Crane
Santa Monica

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