What is SMURRF?

As a company, founded on the principle of ecological conservation, we love to learn more from other-like minded parties and their pioneering water saving solutions to comply with California’s strict conservation measures. Thanks to Joel Cesare, Sustainable Building Adviser for the Office of Sustainability and Environment in the City of Santa Monica, we learned about Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility, also known as SMURRF. 

This project is the first one in the nation and perhaps the world that was designed to treat the water that originates from the streets of Santa Monica.

In Southern California, most runoff water comes from excessive irrigation (leaks and overspray), spills, construction sites, pool draining and car washing. All these wasteful activities discharge polluted water into the storm drain system. The water then flows directly to the ocean without any treatment, becoming one of the largest sources of marine pollution.

The treatment process includes 5 steps:

1. Screening trash and debris: The incoming water goes through a rotating drum screen that removes trash and debris.


2. Grit Removal: The spinning action in the chamber forces small particles of rock, sediment and sand to sink down.


3.Oil and Grease Removal: The Dissolved Air Flotation or DAF Unit injects dissolved air and a coagulant to the pressurized water to remove oil and grease particles.

4. SMURFF3Micro filtration: In this process, the water goes through a plastic microscopic membrane that blocks all the remaining sediment impurities.

5. Disinfection: Until there are more restrictive water quality standards, this is the final treatment process. Water is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, and the completed recycled water cascades into the 250 000 gallon sub level storage.

6. Reverse Osmosis: In the future, water would be pushed through a semi-permeable Reverse Osmosis Membrane to make it drinkable. 

Once treated, the water is delivered to a number of city and private customers such as the Santa Monica Freeway, City of Santa Monica parks, the Woodlawn Cemetery, RAND Corporation and public school grounds. Dual-plumbed customers include the City of Santa Monica’s Public Safety Facility and the Water Garden located at Olympic and Cloverfield.

SMURRF would not be complete without its artistic and educational components. Visitors have a complete view of all the equipment and processes to treat the urban runoff water, and in several locations, the water is exposed to the open air to allow visitors to see the water treatment process.


Santa Monica is building a more sustainable long term infrastructure plan to protect its water resources by combining revolutionary technologies with water efficient ones, such as the Hybrid and Waterfree Urinals.

Click here for more information about SMURRF

*Special thanks to Neal Shapiro, Watershed Management Program Coordinator.