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Residents adjusting to Santa Barbara lawn watering ban

The city of Santa Barbara’s lawn watering ban took effect on New Year’s Day, the move comes as central California enters a sixth year of drought.

City Council adopted the regulation on Dec. 6. The city says the ban will help avoid a water shortage this summer.

Traditionally, the city’s supply comes from Lake Cachuma, which now stands at 7.7 percent of capacity, and from the Gibraltar Reservoir, which is empty.

The city’s ban on watering lawns won’t have much of an impact on the Guillermo family, although they are fully behind it.

“I think it’s a good idea right now. In fact, in our neighborhood, several lawns have been replaced with drought tolerant plants or artificial lawns,” Fred Guillermo said. “I think most people are starting to buy into it, that this is pretty serious.”

The Guillermo family put in artificial grass five years ago when the drought was starting to take hold. They took conservation a step further, collecting bath and shower water to water their indoor and outdoor plants.

“Any of our water that we try to collect in buckets, even thought it’s trouble, we try to water plants and trees,” Genny Guillermo said. “They don’t need much, but we want to preserve some of our greenness in our neighborhoods and towns.”

Santa Barbara residents reduced their water use by 35 percent in the last year. With the new ban that number is expected to reach 40 percent.

City officials say that number will be enough to help avoid water shortages in the peak summer months.

The Guillermo’s say they will continue to save as much of the precious resource as they can.

“We have to be more community-minded, even global thinking,” Genny Guillermo said.”Some countries can’t have even safe, clean water, so lets value ours.”

It’s still unclear how the city will enforce the ban.

The ban is limited to lawn watering but there are some exceptions to the ruling.

Exceptions include:

Recycled water sites. Open spaces and parks on publicly owned and operated lands. Areas of active recreation at schools and state-licensed child care facilities. Golf course putting greens and tee boxes.

Certified water wise turfgrasses and lawn areas directly related to business activities, such as ceremonial event spaces, will need to submit an exemption application and are subject to compliance with water conservation targets.

The city says the focus on lawns allows for critical water savings and prioritizes outdoor water use to preserve high value landscaping such as trees and shrubs.

Specific tree watering information, signs of drought stress in trees, watering FAQs and more can be found here.

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