Stage Two Water Shortage Alert
On June 21, 2022 the Santa Barbara City Council declared a Stage Two Water Shortage Alert in response to Governor Newsom’s recently issued executive orders declaring a statewide drought emergency and mandating that urban water suppliers move to a higher level of drought response. With the conservation practices already adopted by residents and businesses, and the City’s investment in a diversified water supply, including the activation of City’s desalination plant, Santa Barbara’s water supply outlook is good, even if extremely dry conditions persist. However, in recognition of the severity of drought conditions statewide, Santa Barbara is taking the next step to encourage conservation. Given the statewide nature of the drought, we can all continue to make a difference by being as efficient as possible with our water use.
Current Water Use Regulations
- Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle when in use, including washing vehicles and boats.
- No hosing down sidewalks, buildings, or other hard surfaced areas with potable water. Exceptions are for preventative maintenance or for health and safety measures provided a pressure washer, bucket, or other tools are used to limit the amount of water used.
- Irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for in-ground automatic or manual irrigation systems. Hand watering is allowed at any time, but a shut-off nozzle must be used.
- Statewide ban on potable irrigation of non-functional turfgrass at commercial, industrial, and institutional sites. Non-functional turf is defined as turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or for civic or community events. State Board FAQs
- Prohibition on water waste in place at all times: Any use that causes significant runoff beyond the boundaries of the property is prohibited. All leaks must be repaired within 72 hours after notice by the City. Irrigation during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall is prohibited. Measurable rainfall is defined as .25 inches or more during a 24 hour period.
While locally the City has adequate supplies even if extremely dry conditions persist, statewide the outlook is far more severe. California faces critical drought conditions, and all are being asked to do more to reduce water use to help improve California’s water situation. The Governor has mandated that urban water suppliers move to a higher level of drought response, regardless of local water supply conditions. In response, City Council has declared a Stage 2 Water Shortage Alert.
Yes, these regulations are:
- Any use that causes significant runoff beyond the boundaries of the property is prohibited.
- All leaks must be repaired within 72 hours after notice by the City.
- Irrigation during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall is prohibited. Measurable rainfall is defined as .25 inches or more during a 24 hour period.
Residential lawn watering is not impacted by the statewide ban. However, irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for in-ground automatic or manual irrigation systems. For commercial, institutional, and industrial lawns, there is a statewide ban on potable irrigation of non-functional turfgrass. Non-functional turf is defined as turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or for civic or community events. State Board FAQs
No, at this time restrictions for City customers are based on time of day only. Watering with in-ground irrigation systems is only allowed between 6:00 pm and 8:00 am. Other water agencies may have watering day restrictions. If your water provider is not the City of Santa Barbara, please consult with them regarding their adopted restrictions.
Visit SantaBarbaraCA.gov/ReportWater to fill out our online reporting form. Provide as much detail as possible, including the location, time of day, and pictures. Once we have the information, we will send staff out to inspect and follow up.
No, our enforcement actions are complaint-driven and we rely on our community to help keep an eye out and report to us.
Yes, hand washing of cars is permitted as long as the hose has a shut-off nozzle. We encourage residents to wash cars using a bucket and hose with a shut-off nozzle, or to take cars to a local car wash, since they recycle their water.
At this time, there is no restriction on permitting new pools. New pools will need to adhere to the pool cover requirement as part of permitting.
For specific tree watering information, signs of drought stress in trees, FAQs, and more, click here.
The desalination facility provides 30 percent of Santa Barbara’s water supply. The desal plant is one part of the City’s diverse water supply portfolio, which includes surface water from Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoirs, groundwater, State water, purchased water, recycled water, and conservation. Learn more about the desal plant here.
The City’s Enhanced Urban Water Management Plant includes the projected demand from development anticipated under the City’s updated General Plan. This is a minimal amount because new projects represent a small portion of overall water usage, are built to the latest efficiency standards for landscaping and plumbing fixtures, and much of the water demand for the new project is offset by water usage of the existing development. The City has planned for an additional water demand of 40 acre feet per year from new development in the General Plan and the Long-Term Water Supply Plan. Historical demand from new development is 27 acre feet per year, which is approximately 0.3 percent of current demand.
Pre-drought, the average single family residence used approximately 13 hundred cubic feet (HCF) per month (9,700 gallons). Currently, average single family residence usage is 9 HCF per month. In multi-unit residential buildings, the average usage pre-drought was approximately 5 HCF (3,700 gallons) per month per dwelling unit. Currently, average multi-unit usage is 4 HCF per month per dwelling unit. Learn more about historical water usage.