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Despite wet winter, Santa Maria begins Water Awareness Month still encouraging continued conservation

Santa Maria Water Conservation
May is Water Awareness Month in Santa Maria. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Even after a record-setting winter of heavy rainfall that filled local reservoirs, the City of Santa Maria is still encouraging everyone in the community to continue water conservation efforts.

On Tuesday night at the Santa Maria City Council meeting, Mayor Alice Patino officially proclaimed May as Water Awareness Month.

"We are excited about May being Water Awareness Month in Santa Maria," said Santa Maria Utilities Director Shad Springer. "It's just an opportunity to encourage the residents and businesses of Santa Maria to be aware of this valuable resource, conserve the water that's available and just aware of its importance in the community."

Water Awareness Month is an annual observation throughout California that was created to help educate residents about the efficient use of water resources. 

This year, unlike in the recent previous years when the state was gripped by continued dry weather, Water Awareness Month comes following heavy rainfall throughout the past winter.

As a result of relentless rain storms during the winter season, numerous local reservoirs, including Lopez Lake and Cachuma Lake have filled to capacity, spilling for the first time in many years.

However, Springer emphasizes that water conservation efforts are still needed even with increased water supplies.

"We encourage people to make conservation a way of life in Santa Maria, so even though this is a wet year and there are significant water resources throughout the state, it's still an excellent opportunity to save," said Springer. "In Santa Maria, we use the groundwater basin and it was heavy use during the drought time, so getting that to recharge over time, it's important that people still conserve water where they can."

Springer pointed out there are encouraging signs that people in Santa Maria are continuing to remain mindful with their water usage.

"We are encouraged by the water use throughout this winter," said Springer. "When we've seen significant rain events, we've seen that water use has significantly reduced, so we do know that people have reduced their outside landscaping and irrigation during rain events, and we certainly encourage people with rain in the forecast this week to consider turning off those sprinklers, so the community has responded very well to reducing their outside water demand when rain is available and we still encourage that." 

He added water supplies in Santa Maria are receiving a huge boost due to recent rain.

Nearby Twitchell Reservoir, just east of the city along Highway 166 helps recharge the Santa Maria Valley groundwater basin. Winter storms have has helped the reservoir reach highest levels in many years. As of Tuesday, it was at 56% capacity.

"The Twitchell Management Authority annual report was recently completed and indicated the basin continues to not be in overdraft, so there are adequate water supplies to meet the community's needs," said Springer. "Importantly, we rely heavily on that ground water resource, and while there are significant surface water sources available, many of the reservoirs throughout the state are full and spilling, it takes time to recharge the groundwater basins, so continuing to conserve and allowing those groundwater basins to recover is very important to the long term vitality of the community."

For more information on Water Awareness Month in Santa Maria, click here.

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Dave Alley

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