Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 2:53 am | Fair 43º

Santa Barbara Water Users Make Substantial Cutbacks in June

City officials say demand dropped 15 percent last month, bringing overall conservation totals to 7 percent since March

Fountains have been going dry throughout Santa Barbara during the drought, including the one at the A.C. Postel Rose Garden across the street from the Santa Barbara Mission.
Fountains have been going dry throughout Santa Barbara during the drought, including the one at the A.C. Postel Rose Garden across the street from the Santa Barbara Mission.  (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Santa Barbara residents reduced water usage by 15 percent in June, putting the city closer to its conservation goal put in place for the region's extreme drought, officials announced Wednesday.

The past three years have been the driest consecutive years on record, and the city has asked people to cover swimming pools, stop watering grass and turn off large ornamental fountains in response.

The city declared a Stage II drought in May and has asked residents to voluntarily cut water usage by 20 percent each month.

Rate increases were also put in place on July 1, and customers may see an increase on their forthcoming water bills.

Last week, city leaders outlined how many local parks are going brown and that some are not being watered at all as an effort to save water.

Because the city's recycled water facility is down for another year, the Parks & Recreation Department has been forced to use potable water for landscaping, so it has cut back significantly on irrigation to many public places.

The city's reduction efforts from March through June have saved 363 acre feet of water, or 7 percent below a typical demand for that same four-month period, according to Madeline Ward, the city's acting water conservation coordinator.

Water demand over the last four months has fluctuated significantly, and Ward said it is critical that the community achieve and maintain the 20 percent goal.

Santa Barbara had a 5 percent drop in demand initially, a 12 percent cut in April and no water savings whatsoever in May, acting water resources manager Joshua Haggmark has said. 

"Since nearly half of the water in the community is used outdoors, the summer months offer the greatest opportunity for water savings," Ward said, adding that the June numbers show the city is on the right track. "The water that is saved today will help the community extend local water supplies further and reduce the need for future cost increases to develop additional water supplies."

The city is offering free water checkups, which can be scheduled by calling 805.564.5460 or by clicking here.

Anyone who witnesses water being wasted in the city can report it online by clicking here to note the date, time, and upload a picture so the officials can follow up, Ward said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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