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Water rules may be changed due to wet start to 2017

The strict water rules in Santa Barbara may be adjusted slightly after a wet start to the year. City water managers stress, however, they are not convinced that the dry years are over going forward.

Conservation is still going to be stressed in many ways throughout Santa Barbara, and the overall capacity of Cachuma Lake is still questionable.

The Santa Barbara City Council will hear a drought related report Tuesday recommending a cancelation of the ban on lawn watering along with a scaled back conservation goal from 40 percent to 30 percent. The new lawn rule was just approved but likely had no impact because of the early year rains.

It could be raining when the city makes a decision Tuesday according to forecasters who see a storm passing through.

Santa Barbara still needs to replenish its underground wells which took a hit during the drought and need new supplies, according to water officials. There’s also a supply that was borrowed from other agencies and needs to be replenished.

Even at this morning’s calculation of 49 percent of capacity and a level the area hasn’t seen since 2014, Cachuma Lake has many obligations for the water ranging from the downstream users, to the front country water agencies. It’s possible half of that water is accounted for now. The rest will have to be managed carefully.

More details will be explained at the city council meeting Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.

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