Santa Barbara is now in a stage two drought, and city leaders are asking residents to do their part and conserve water, and on Tuesday approved regulations for water use.
The City Council unanimously approved the regulations, among which are provisions that pools and spas should be covered when not in use and that irrigation should only be done at night and in the morning.
The council also approved some specific regulations about one of the more controversial prohibitions — running water in ornamental fountains and water features.
After some debate the previous week among council members, staff came back on Tuesday with an ordinance that would prohibit fountains and water features except those that are located indoors or on residential properties, have a total water surface area less than or equal to 25 square feet, or sustain aquatic life like that of fish or turtles.
Among the other new rules, hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle, and washing of pavement and other hard surfaces by hose will be generally prohibited.
Vehicles and boats must be washed at commercial facilities that recycle the water or by hose with a shut-off nozzle, according to the regulations.
In restaurants and hotels, water should only be served upon request, and gyms, pools and other businesses that provide showers must post drought notices and promote limitations of shower use.
The city and state are experiencing one of the driest three-year periods on record, and no significant rain is expected until next winter, said Joshua Haggmark, the city's water resources manager.
Next year, the city will have a water shortfall, and the city is actively looking for supplemental water from other sources.
However, "if this community can reach the 20 percent goal, we have sufficient supplies to get us through next year," Haggmark said.
Rate increases will also be in store later this summer, and are weighted to impact those who use more water than most.
Haggmark said the city has reached out to the top water users and said "they're going to chip in and be part of the solution."