Santa Barbara Eyes WERS for Administering Code Compliance

codewatcher wers

City will use WERS to verify developers meet ultra-high water use efficiency standards.

On August 14, Santa Barbara (CA) City Council adopted an ordinance modifying water metering regulations and incentivizing ultra-high water use efficiency projects. To help assess the efficiency of multifamily projects, the City is looking to enlist the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® as a path to administer compliance.

Under the new ordinance, developers would have more flexible water metering options by verifying their project meets ultra-high water use efficiency standards through an independent rating institution. The Public Works Director is finalizing an administrative policy for implementation of the ordinance, including standards for ultra-high water use efficiency and approval of independent rating institutions.

Madeline Wood, Water Conservation Supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara, said, “We worked with local industry stakeholders to formulate a path to code compliance that both met the City’s need for conservation and the practical needs of the design/build community. After much consideration, we think this will be a good fit for all parties.”

The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® is an independent rating system that evaluates water usage and conservation. Since it is a performance-based program, it would allow the City to simultaneously enforce existing conservation requirements while incentivizing new efficiency measures. At the same time, there is a certain level of flexibility for the design/build community within the program in order to help meet client needs.

“The City of Santa Barbara’s innovative spirit should be commended,” stated Mike Collignon, Chair of the WERS Development Group. “They are the first municipality to incorporate performance-based water conservation into their multifamily regulations.” Collignon also lauded the collaborative efforts of Santa Fe, NM. At the request of Santa Barbara staff, Santa Fe shared their codification experience with WERS. The City of Santa Fe has used WERS as a code requirement for single-family properties since March 2017.

The ordinance takes effect September 13.

For more information about WERS, please visit www.wers.us.