Santa Monica’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project earns League of California Cities Award


The following is a factually accurate press release from the City of Santa Monica.

The League of California Cities awarded the 2023 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence to the city of Santa Monica for the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project. 

Santa Monica’s innovative water recycling project, known as the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project or SWIP, captures stormwater, urban runoff and wastewater for reuse as a sustainable water supply that provides for about 10 percent of the city’s water demand.  

SWIP was one of 10 city projects to earn the award, which recognizes programs and initiatives that enhance quality of life and delivery of services for the community. 

“The SWIP is the result of nearly 10 years of planning and represents incredible foresight. We’re now reaping the benefits of being ahead of the curve on water sustainability,” Water Resources Manager Sunny Wang said. “We’re predicted to have another wet winter, and instead of that water flowing into the ocean, we’re able to capture it and keep it locally to replenish our groundwater supplies. I really appreciate Cal Cities recognizing the efforts that we’ve made for our community.” 

Located beneath the Civic Center parking lot in Santa Monica, the SWIP is a first of its kind project that provides a new, sustainable and drought resilient water supply for the city. It’s a key component of the Sustainable Water Supply Program to increase the city’s water resiliency by bolstering local supplies. SWIP consists of three integral elements working together to produce up to 1,680 acre-feet per year of high-quality purified water: an advanced water treatment facility, a 1.5 million gallon stormwater harvesting tank, and upgrades to the Santa Monica urban runoff recycling facility. The final purified water is high-quality, safe to use and drought resilient. The SWIP has won numerous other awards and accolades, including the 2023 WateReuse Award. 

“I could not be prouder of the work done by our Water Resources division to get SWIP open and operating for almost a year now,” City Manager David White said. “Santa Monica continues to lead the way in innovation around sustainability, and the SWIP is a supreme example that will benefit the community for years to come. The SWIP brings us that much closer to water self-sufficiency, and also frees up water resources in the region, easing the burden on everyone. This is the kind of sustainable innovation that California needs, and we’re so excited to set this example.” 

The League of California Cities is a nonprofit association with the mission of expanding and protecting local control for cities through education and advocacy. Established in 1982, the League’s Helen Putnam Award for Excellence recognizes California cities for achievements that have made unique contributions to their community resulting in lower costs or more effective delivery of services. This year, out of 142 submissions, 10 cities were selected for their outstanding programs. Watch their video on SWIP here and view the full list of award recipients here

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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