- What are the drought stages?
There are 3 drought stages: Stage 1 is to alert the public that a potential serious water shortage may occur if dry weather continues and water demands remain high. Stage 2 reflects that a serious water shortage is expected in the current or impending year, and includes drought based water rates and mandatory water use restrictions. Stage 3 is triggered by an extreme water shortage which includes more aggressive mandatory restrictions. The City maintains a Water Shortage Contingency Plan which was most recently updated in 2021. Find more information here.
- Are there restrictions on how water can be used?
Yes. The Stage Three Drought Regulations were rescinded on April 9, 2019, however, water waste is prohibited at all times. Wasting water is defined as any excessive, unnecessary or unwarranted use of water, including, but not limited to, any use or method of use that causes significant runoff beyond the boundaries of property served by a meter; failure to repair any leak or rupture in any water pipes, faucets, valves, plumbing fixtures or other water service appliances within 72 hours after notice by the City; and irrigation during and for a period of 48 hours after a measurable rainfall event (a measurable rainfall event means, rainfall of one-quarter inch or more during a 24 hour period).
To report water waste in the City please click here.
- Does the City currently have a target for customers to reduce water use?
The City needs to reduce our community water demand by 15% compared to 2013 water use (before the last major drought). Any water saved now can help prevent more severe actions needed in the future as drought conditions continue. We are urging that each customer (residential, business, commercial, etc.) evaluate their water use and see where they can conserve. The City’s Water Conservation Program is here to help everyone save water; to get help evaluating water use and conservation opportunities, get a free water checkup.
- How can I save my trees that were stressed during the drought?
For specific tree watering information, signs of drought stress in trees, FAQs, and more, click here.
- What portion of our water supply comes from the desalination plant?
The desalination facility provides 30 percent of Santa Barbara’s water supply. The desal plant is one part of the City’s diverse water supply portfolio, which includes surface water from Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoirs, groundwater, State water, purchased water, recycled water, and conservation. Learn more about the desal plant here.
- Why don’t we put a moratorium on new development?
The City’s Long Term Water Supply Plan (LTWSP) includes the projected demand from development anticipated under the City’s updated General Plan. This is a minimal amount because new projects represent a small portion of overall water usage, are built to the latest efficiency standards for landscaping and plumbing fixtures, and much of the water demand for the new project is offset by water usage of the existing development. The City has planned for an additional water demand of 40 acre feet per year from new development in the General Plan and the Long-Term Water Supply Plan. Historical demand from new development is 27 acre feet per year, which is approximately 0.3 percent of current demand.
- How much water does a typical household use every month?
Pre-drought, the average single family residence used approximately 13 hundred cubic feet (HCF) per month (9,700 gallons). Currently, average single family residence usage is 9 HCF per month. In multi-unit residential buildings, the average usage pre-drought was approximately 5 HCF (3,700 gallons) per month per dwelling unit. Currently, average multi-unit usage is 4 HCF per month per dwelling unit. Learn more about historical water usage.
Last Updated: Aug 13, 2021