To many of us, this is an unfamiliar, hard to imagine concept. For the 42 unit Monastery housing project proposed by New Urban West, it is an important component. For clarification, Preserve Sierra Madre contacted the City Manager, Gabe Engeland, and asked him to explain the NetZero water process. His response follows.
With regards to NetZero, the MOU states "NetZero. To ensure the Project has a net zero water impact through the establishment of a fund that will pay for retrofitting of water efficient features in older homes in the City (e.g., low flush toilets and low flow showers)."
The purpose of the inclusion of NetZero in the MOU was to ensure the project did not have any water impact on Sierra Madre. Since the signing of the MOU, and subsequent research, Staff has determined creating, operating and managing a retrofitting program would be less efficient than simply charging the developer the cost of water expected to be used in each of the homes if they are developed. This charge would then be used to purchase and import 100% of the expected water use for each home and recharge our local aquifer.
Below is an example of how a NetZero water charge would work. Please understand this is an example of how the charge is calculated and may not represent the final numbers proposed.
Here is how we propose to calculate the NetZero charge: The cost to import one acre foot of water in Sierra Madre is $512. The average single family home uses approximately 0.25 acre feet per year. The life of home is 50 years.
In order to calculate, we multiply: Cost of an acre foot by use: $512 * 0.25 = $128
Then multiply this by the life expectancy of the home: $128 * 50 = $6,400
Then multiply this by the number of homes: $6,400 * 42 = $268,800
In this example, each home would be required to pay, up front, for all of the expected water use during the lifetime of the home.
New homes are more water efficient than older homes. The water used in the calculation, however, is from the average Sierra Madre home. This means the new homes will likely offset more water than used over their lifetime.
It is also important to note the NetZero charge is in addition to the actual water that the future property owner would use. Each home will also be charged the same rate as all other Sierra Madre residents.