Despite overcast conditions, people flocked to Santa Monica State Beach during last year's Labor Day. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

Water will flow to showers on Santa Monica beaches throughout the summer despite an announcement by state officials last week that showers on state beaches would be turned off.

In a July 7 release, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat said all state parks and beaches would shut off outdoor rinse stations on July 15.

“California is facing extremely severe drought conditions,” she said. “It is important for all Californians to conserve water at home, at work and even when recreating outdoors.”

Santa Monica beaches are owned by the state, but the City controls all beach maintenance, including use of the showers.

“Santa Monica State beaches are locally operated by the City of Santa Monica as part of a 50 year operating agreement,” said Craig Sap, Angeles District Superintendent for California State Parks.

According to Santa Monica Beach Administrator Judith Meister, the City of Santa Monica is responsible for everything except lifeguards, who are contracted through Los Angeles County. Beach actives such as concessions, upkeep of the beach path, infrastructure improvements and cleaning of restrooms are all city services.

“It is Santa Monica State Beach but we have an operating agreement with the State Parks for management of the beach,” she said. “The City is responsible for all aspects of the beach and all revenues go into the beach fund to pay for services.”

She said the City encourages beachgoers to be frugal with their water use and there are plans to up improve the auto shut-off valves but the showers will remain on during the summer to accommodate the millions of people that use the beach.

“It would be really difficult to turn off showers given the amount of people coming to our beach,” she said. “We’re taking other measures to reduce water usage.”

Sap said Santa Monica has worked hard to reduce water usage along beaches.

“They have already made a lot of conservation measures in the past,” he said. “They have taken the lead among cities in green energy. They have done enough conservation.”

The state mandate to cut showers is part of ongoing efforts to address the historic drought.

Earlier this year Gov. Jerry Brown ordered California communities to cut water use by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels. All 278 California State Parks have met the water reduction mandate but officials said areas with more water scarcity would have to further reduced consumption.

The department estimates that shutting off outdoor rinse stations will conserve more than 1.2 gallons of water per shower or rinse, thus potentially saving a total of more than 18 million gallons of water annually.

State beaches have already implemented some water conservation tools such as upgrades to equipment, improved leak detection, use of portable restrooms, use of waterless hand sanitizer and improved maintenance/construction methods.

State officials said residents can plan to reduce their water use at the beach by using a towel to wipe away sand, bringing a jug of water from home or using a pressurized/portable shower unit.

editor@www.smdp.com

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