Frequently Asked Questions
What is the current status of our water supply?
While the 2011-2012 winter season was unusually dry, water supplies are still in good shape. Gibraltar Reservoir and Lake Cachuma were filled to capacity during the 2010-2011 winter season. Lake Cachuma, the primary water supply for the City and other South Coast water purveyors, provides 5 or more years of storage when full. Learn more about the City’s water sources… See countywide rainfall data…
But an adequate water supply does not mean we can forget about conservation. The City’s water supply is secure in part because of the ongoing efforts of our customers to be efficient in their water use. Thanks to water conservation and use of recycled water, potable water usage is down 15% compared to the 1980’s, even with a larger population. Citizens are urged to continue to take advantage of the many conservation services offered by the City’s Water Conservation Program.
Do we have a desalination plant?
Yes, the desalination plant is in long-term storage mode, to be reactivated only for emergency conditions. Currently we do not use desalinated water due to lower cost surface water and groundwater supplies. Learn more about the City’s desalination plant…
How do City water rates compare to others in the county?
Countywide, City water rates for typical single family residential use are at average. On the south coast, typical single family water costs are less in the City than other South Coast water purveyors. Learn more about rates...
How do I pay my water bill?
1. You can pay your bill online at the Utilities Online website.
2. You can mail in your payment to: City of Santa Barbara, PO Box 60809, Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0809
3. You can bring payment to the Cashiers Office.
My water usage has increased. What should I do?
If your water usage has increased and you can’t find the reason, you can get a free water checkup by calling 564-5460. If it is a leak and you have it repaired, in some cases you may be able to get an adjustment to your water charges. Please see the application for more information.
How much water does a typical household use every month?
The average single family residence uses approximately 12 hundred cubic feet (hcf) per month (9,000 gallons). In multi-family residential buildings the average usage is approximately 5 hcf (3,700 gallons) per month per dwelling unit. Learn more about water usage….
Do we reuse wastewater?
Yes. The City's Recycled Water Project recycles approximately 800 acre feet of treated wastewater each year. It is used to irrigate parks, schools, golf courses and more. Learn more about recycled water...
Is it illegal to waste water?
Yes. The Santa Barbara Municipal Code (SBMC 14.20.007) prohibits the waste of water, such as ongoing leaks or runoff from excessive irrigation. Any continuing cases of water waste should be brought to the attention of Water Conservation staff for follow-up. Please call the Water Conservation Hotline at (805) 564-5460.
Does our water have fluoride added?
No, the City does not add fluoride to our drinking water and has no future plans to start. Learn more about water quality...
Does the City use State Water?
Yes, the City has a State Water allotment of 3,000 acre feet per year. This amount is available to the City when full deliveries from the State Water Project are available. The City’s allotment and the operation of the local portion of the State Water Project is managed by the Central Coast Water Authority, a joint powers agency formed to administer the construction and operation of the local State Water Project facilities. Learn more about State Water…
How much does it cost to run the City’s water system?
The annual budget is approximately $35 million. This includes paying for major capital projects and staff. Water resources employees are needed to treat water supplies, maintain the distribution system, perform water quality tests, run the Water Conservation program, and manage water supplies for the benefit of the community. Example of capital projects include replacement of aging water mains, as well as the construction and rehabilitation of major water facilities such as the State Water Project, the Recycled Water Project, Cater Water Treatment Plant, and the Ortega Groundwater Treatment Plant.