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Santa Barbara declares end to drought emergency

Posted: 7:45 PM, Apr 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-09 22:45:31-04

The City of Santa Barbara declared an end to its drought emergency Tuesday.

The city says the above-average rainfall this winter improved water supplies. Based on current water supply forecasts, the city believes it has enough supply to meet demands through 2021.

On Tuesday, the City Council ended its Stage Three Drought Emergency, lifting drought water use regulations. The City Council first enacted the Stage Three Drought Emergency in 2015, requiring 25 percent water conservation initially. According to the city’s website, that conservation number eventually increased to 40 percent.

Now that the drought emergency is over, that requirement will be lifted, however, the city will still enforce regulations against irrigation runoff and anyone who fails to repair a leak.

Right now, the city is averaging 30 percent conservation compared to 2013.

The city is now adopting a Stage One Water Supply Condition and asks people to continue conserving water, in order to fully recover from the drought.

City leaders also plan to reassess water rates for July 2020 with a new rate study starting this summer. Water rates increased significantly during the drought, and the city says rates that will become effective this July already reflect a gradual recovery from drought costs. For more information on water rates and drought planning, click here .

The city also released updates on current water supplies Tuesday.

  • Lake Cachuma is currently 79 percent full.
  • Gibraltar Reservoir is currently full, however, water use is limited due to water quality concerns stemming from the Thomas Fire.
  • The city’s groundwater basins are still recovering.
  • The 2019 water allocation from the state is currently 70 percent of the maximum amount.
  • The city also uses its desalination plant and recycled water to provide water to customers.
Top: Lake Cachuma January 30, 2019. Bottom: Lake Cachuma March 21, 2019.
(Photo credit: Santa Barbara County Public Works Department)