Skip to Content

Santa Barbara City Council declares Stage Two Water Shortage Alert

Stage Two Water Shortage Alert intended to help city weather drought

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Santa Barbara City Council members unanimously voted to declare a Stage Two Water Shortage, but they are not setting a conservation percentage goal to go with it just yet.

Santa Barbara Water Conservation Analyst Madeline Wood said the community has already cut back 25% and is on track to have enough water to meet its goals for the next two years.

Santa Barbara also gets 35% of its water from its once controversial desalination plant, which may be expanded within its footprint down the road.

Santa Barbara Water Supply Analyst said, "Expanding the desal plant should be relatively easy from the kind of design and construction standpoint ad that's because it is already permitted in design to produce up to 10,000 acre feet a year."

Currently it produces 3,125 acre feet per year.

"It's designed in a modular fashion which you can kind of think of Legos or plu sand play and as we want to expand the amount of water that can be produced from the desalination facility we just plug in another treatment train."

Recycled water also accounts for 10% of the city's water usage.

The city has been trying to explain those percentages to state legislators in the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom's request to reduce by 15% voluntarily.

To explain some of these water issues, the city council also unanimously voted to authorize the Public Works Director to spend $200,000 dollars over five years to hire Katz & Associates to do messaging and public outreach.

Katz was hired during the last drought to communicate conservation tips as well.

"The city is committed to making sure that we reach a sustainable level of water use through cooperation with our community, " said Councilmember Mike Jordan. "So the money we're spending involves using a public relations firm to message that to our community in hopes that we can scoot along to a little better water conservation without being punitive."

The city also voted to adopt a resolution to appropriate water operating fund reserves for the water conservation rebate program.

When residents use less water, the city makes less money but it plans to entice residents with conservation-related rebates anyway while the drought continues to be a statewide issue.

Corey said that the city uses 10,000 acre-feet per fiscal year and also sells an additional 1,430 acre-feet to Montecito. The city has a contract to keep continue selling water to Montecito.

An acre-foot is the equivalent of about 326,000 gallons. To put that into a visual perspective, it's enough water to cover the Santa Barbara City College football field with a foot of water.

Cooperation is essential.

Jordan, who spent four years as a city water commissioner, said he learned today that people who use garden hoses to water their property actually do better than sprinklers because the user can target the areas that need water the most.

Wood suggested people continue to conserve by using common sense methods. She said they should not water their yards in the heat of the day.

"Of course common sense things would be if you are using a hose make sure you have a shut-off valve."

She also said they don't want people watering in the middle of the day because the spray can evaporate in the sunshine.

"We are asking that you to water in the night or early morning."

And don't use a broom instead of water to clean a sidewalk or driveway.

More tips will follow as community members are asked to voluntarily continue to conserve.

The message is to think of it as "One Water" to be shared.

Councilmembers also asked staff about water that would be used by new housing and hotels.

Water analysts said due to modern water-efficient fixtures, new developments will be more efficient and not deplete the water supply by more than 1%.

Author Profile Photo

Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

Skip to content