The Montecito Water District board voted unanimously this month to waive the rules of its ongoing water moratorium for Rick Caruso, developer of the Rosewood Miramar Beach resort.
Caruso will be allowed to replace three of the five water meters at his beachfront property at 1555 South Jameson Lane with larger meters, the board said, because they will be needed only in case of fire.
Montecito’s two-year-old moratorium bans the upsizing of water meters on the premise that doing so would increase water demand. But Caruso’s representatives said the future 170-room hotel and its fitness center, spa, swimming pools, and restaurants would not exceed their yearly water allocation from the district. In addition, they said, larger meters would allow for the construction of a looped private water system that combines fire-flow and domestic water demand, inline with the best engineering practices of five-star resorts.
According to an engineering report for the Miramar, the existing meters can supply a flow of 630 gallons per minute — enough for daily resort operations but well short of the 2,000 gallons per minute required for fire emergencies.
Installing larger meters for that purpose “will not significantly adversely affect the goals” of the moratorium, the water board said. Caruso will pay for the larger meters and a larger service line to the district’s water main. The district’s water-meter service charges for the Miramar will nearly quadruple from $858-$3,266 monthly. Construction on the Miramar project is expected to break ground this spring.