The fountain at Ken Genser Square in front of City Hall reflects the sunset. (File photo)

Updates could be coming to City Hall’s Green Building Ordinance and numerous changes to City Hall’s water usage routines are already in place.

California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state’s history and as a result state and local governments have been cracking down on water usage.

Gov.Jerry Brown put forth an executive order that will mandate water cutbacks statewide. City officials believe City Council’s drought response measures are consistent with that order and, now that the State’s order has been finalized, city officials will move forward with council’s plan, which aims to fine residents and business owners who don’t reduce water usage by 20 percent over their 2013 totals.

“We plan to send notices out to all customers regarding their water use allowances later this month, said Dean Kubani, Santa Monica’s Sustainability Manager. “… We had originally planned to send them out last month but put it on hold in order to see where the State landed on their emergency regulations and where MWD landed on their water allocations. We decided to hold off to minimize confusion to local water customers who have been hearing differing messages from the state, MWD and other water agencies.”

In addition, city officials have been making changes to their water habits, according to a recent report. In 2013, City Hall was responsible for just under 4 percent of all the water usage within the city limits. That was about 166 million gallons.

They’ve stopped watering ornamental turf on public street medians and the removed a bunch of turf at Ocean View Park. They ripped turf out at Palisades Park and Ken Genser Square, replacing it with mulch rings. At Marine Park and Reed Park, city officials are trying out smart irrigation control system technology. They’ve switched from conventional spray heads to more water-efficient rotary nozzles.

“For exterior cleaning, recycled water is used for pressure washing Downtown Santa Monica, park sidewalks and walking paths, and beach hardscape areas,” city officials said in the release. “The City also uses scrubbers that recirculate water for cleaning downtown sidewalks saving hundreds of gallons of water per day. In addition, pressure washing frequency has been reduced – Third Street Promenade sidewalks are now washed five days per week instead of seven, and the washing of park tennis courts has been reduced from monthly to as necessary.”

Some of the drought saving measures date back half a decade. Since 2009, they’ve switched out old appliances in 60 percent of city facilities, replacing them with water conserving sinks, basins, faucets, showers, and toilets.

“Technicians are regularly checking plumbing and heating and cooling systems in City facilities to prevent and quickly repair leaks,” city officials said. “In addition, training will be provided for janitorial staff in water-efficient procedures and on the City’s water conversation efforts. Lastly, continuing efforts include the possibility of adjusting water pressure within City-owned facilities and exploring opportunities to utilize recycled and reclaimed water whenever possible.”

Finally, city officials have plans to tighten up the ordinance that dictates the environmental standards for newly constructed buildings. In July, city officials will likely present a proposed update to the Green Building Ordinance, banning the installation of irrigation that uses potable water but does not deliver it via drip or microspray. It would also require indoor plumbing fixtures to be 30 percent more efficient. Landscape requirements would mandate a 70 percent reduction in water use.

“Further, staff will recommend a ban on the installation and filling of new pools, except for public recreation facilities,” city officials said.

Council will have the final say on the proposed changes.

dave@www.smdp.com

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