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Local News

Schwarzenegger Drought Declaration Puts Focus on Local Conservation

Santa Barbara touts range of water-saving programs already in place.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought Wednesday in response to below-average rainfall, very low snowmelt runoff, and significant court-ordered restrictions on water transfers affecting all of California.

A key element of Schwarzenegger’s plan is to expedite water conservation at the local level. As it happens, the city of Santa Barbara has been a leader in water conservation for the past 20 years and its award-winning water conservation program offers plenty of opportunities for customers to save water, and money. Click here to take the “20-gallon Challenge” to see how you measure up on reducing your use by at least 20 gallons daily, or call 805.564.5460 for a free water check-up and to ask about rebates for water conservation upgrades. Click here for information on additional indoor and outdoor water conservation.

California’s drought troubles affect various regions in different ways. Water districts that depend heavily on transfers of water from Northern California via state and federal water projects are expected to be affected the most. Santa Barbara’s water supply depends on State Water only to a limited extent, taking water when available and when needed to help stretch local supplies.

South Coast water agencies are fortunate that Lake Cachuma filled completely as a result of the winter rains. A multiyear supply there buffers the effects of reduced deliveries of State Water. These factors reduce the impact of the statewide water shortage on the city’s water supply, but water conservation is always important.

“A full reservoir at Cachuma takes away the immediate threat of drought for Santa Barbara,” acting water resources manager Rebecca Bjork said. “But ongoing conservation by our customers is crucial to our long-term ability to meet the demand for water.”

The “20 Gallon Challenge,” which is designed to convince users to save an additional 20 gallons of water per day, can help you develop a personalized plan to increase your conservation efforts. The city also offers tools such as free water check-ups and can help you identify efficiency improvements, qualify for rebates and adjust irrigation schedules. Free rain sensors are available to prevent irrigation systems from activating when it is raining. A wide variety of information is available on water-wise plants and how to incorporate them into your landscape. Rebates are available for high-efficiency clothes washers, toilets and urinals, including waterless urinals. “Green Gardener” training is also offered for landscape professionals.

Click here for more information on the water conservation program, or call the Water Hotline at 805.564.5460.

Kathleen Kefauver is with the city of Santa Barbara.

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