This is the traditional time of year to think education, and water-wise programs offer fun ways to learn about water conservation — both in the garden and in the classroom.

The City of Santa Barbara Water Conservation Program helps sponsor classes for sustainable gardening and offers water education programs for local students.

Start the fall planting season off right by enrolling in the Green Gardener class series, which begins Wednesday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. in Room 31 of the Schott Center. The Green Gardener Program educates local gardeners in resource efficient and pollution prevention landscape maintenance practices. The class series is offered through the SBCC Continuing Education Division.

There is a materials fee of $35, and anyone is eligible to take the class. Simply show up on the first day to sign up. For more information, click here or call 805.683.8260.

Another water-wise class series offered in Santa Barbara is the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program, which provides education and hands-on training in establishing gardens that apply “CPR”: conservation of natural resources, permeability of soils and retention of rainfall.

The next class in the series is the free hands-on workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Spencer Adams Park, 1216 De la Vina St. The workshop is led by G3, the Green Gardens Group, and will evaluate the site for water use and runoff, create an OFG “irrigation budget,” determine rainwater harvest potential and develop design concepts. The workshop will be followed on other dates by a daylong training for professionals, a Garden Workday and a Neighborhood Walk.

For more information on the series or to sign up for the workshop, click here or email

Not to forget the youngest water users, the city also provides water education to local K-6 students through school presentations about the importance of water, the water cycle, where water comes from and water conservation. In addition, tours to the El Estero Wastewater Treatment plant are offered to third- through 12th-graders, but only the brave are able to enter the plant’s dreaded “stinky tank.” For more information, click here or call 805.897.2672.

— Alison Jordan is a water conservation coordinator for the City of Santa Barbara.