Before Matrix 2.0 was signed on the morning of Feb. 16 – creating the first straightforward guidelines for uses of non-potable water in L.A. County – the City of Santa Monica held a press tour of a few nearby examples of innovative stormwater capture and water-recycling, including Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, a maintenance center for the new Expo light-rail, and Penmar Park.
According to the hotel, Loews is currently the first, and only, Santa Monica business to install the closed-loop AquaRecycle Laundry Water Recycle System. The installation came about last year when the hotel, one of the bigger commercial water users in Santa Monica, worked in conjunction with city officials on an audit of how they used water and how to manage it more efficiently. Laundry was determined to be the biggest user of water on the property, according to Loews assistant marketing manager, Rachel Kaye.
The AquaRecycle system, which uses ultra violet technology, enables 70-percent of final rinse water that has gone through the laundry process, and been filtered and disinfected, to be reused for more laundry purposes, which results in a 4.3 million gallon savings of water per year.
The system also keeps the water at a temperate temperature during this process, which helps to avoid having to completely reheat the used water, which has resulted in heat energy savings over 55-percent. In 2015 the hotel was honored with the Sustainable Quality Excellence Award in Stewardship of the Natural Environment.
Loews is currently in the middle of a hotel-wide renovation and as part of that remodel has installed low-flow showerheads and sinks and low-flush toilets in its 347 guest rooms in hopes of reducing their in-room water use by more than 40-percent.
At the border of Santa Monica and Venice, the ground beneath Penmar Park is home to a 2.7 million gallon cistern dedicated to collecting urban runoff. The City of Santa Monica received a $1 million grant from the state of California to pay for its portion of a collaborative project with the City of Los Angeles that will produce a pipeline intended to reclaim water for spray irrigation. The first phase of the project cost $2.2 million.
Near Centinela Avenue, the operations and maintenance center for the new Expo light-rail is home to a 400,000-gallon cistern that is intended to capture stormwater runoff from local stormdrains. This water will then be repurposed for irrigation of the grounds and to clean site equipment.
Matthew King, communications director for Heal the Bay, was in attendance for the tour and said his organization got its start worrying about the polluted waste in the water, but now, in the time of a permanent drought, are concerned about the waste of water.
“In a nutshell, we all have to do a better job of recycling and reusing the water we already have,” King said.
Following the tour of these locales, representatives from several local, environmentally-minded organizations, government agencies and non-profits gathered together at the Pico Branch Library to present and sign Matrix 2.0, a new roadmap that will give municipalities, businesses and homeowners clear guidelines on how to significantly contribute to L.A. County’s water management and planning through their use of non-potable water indoors and outside.
Mayor Tony Vazquez believes these guidelines will help the City of Santa Monica reach its sustainable water master plan of 100 percent local self-sufficiency by 2020.
“This matrix is an important standard and step toward helping us achieve this goal,” Vazquez said. “While harvesting and using graywater, rainwater, stormwater and recycled water are legal, we have lacked a clear, comprehensive, consistent and streamlined regulatory process so that alternative water supplies are attractive for private and residential users.”
King believes the new regulations will clear up confusion about what you can and can’t do with non-potable water and will hopefully spur investment into the types of projects seen on the tour.
“The new Matrix is a great example of environmental NGOs and government bodies working together to create a framework that people can understand and execute. It’s going to take all of us working together to create a new water dynamic in the state.”