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Lack of rain impacts local water supply, Santa Margarita residents asked to voluntarily conserve

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 22:53:28-04

Lack of rainfall this season is already causing problems for local water supplies.

Santa Margarita and Solvang residents have been asked to voluntarily cut back their water usage by 15%.

Central Coast water experts are hoping the voluntary conservation efforts will help but said if people don't start taking action now, mandatory conservation could go into effect.

Signs at the entrance of town say Santa Margarita is now under a water alert. It means residents are asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 15%.

“Really, 15% is doing those little things you don't really think about during the day, but when drought is on the mind and you are trying to converse water, you do that by turning off the tap,” said Kate Ballantyne, Deputy Director of San Luis Obispo County Public Works.

The alert status is triggered when the groundwater level drops below a certain point or when the three-year cumulative rainfall total drops below 84". In this case, both are true.

“Conserving water now helps us delay any sort of mandatory conservation,” Ballantyne said. "We do have water, we live in California so we understand as Californians that we go through this drought cycle. Based on what we have seen this year, everyone should be doing their best to conserve to help us out."

Santa Margarita resident Terry Wolf likes to take his fishing boat to local lakes but is concerned the drought will prevent him from casting a line.

“Margarita Lake is going down and Nacimiento Lake will go down. I've seen it get down to 3% and 6% and that's when it's really, really bad,” Wolf said.

Neighbors in Solvang have also been asked to conserve.

The city council voted in April to impose restrictions and spend $400,000 on supplemental water.

For some longtime Californians, water conservation is second nature.

“I don't think about it, it's integrated,” said Andre Soto, Santa Margarita resident. “When we were kids and stuff, we didn't do water balloon fights all day, we didn't splash the hose all day, we didn't leave extra water running."

Wolf and his family try to limit their daytime water use.

“We don't use that much water during the day. You don't flush the toilet all the time, you wash clothes when it's time, 9 o'clock after, something like that,” Wolf said.

If conditions don't improve, Santa Margarita's status would be upgraded to critical and residents would be required to conserve 20%.

San Luis Obispo County is monitoring the local reservoir levels, specifically, Lopez Lake which is currently at 36%.

If that doesn't improve, the residents it serves could see 10% water cutbacks by late summer.

Here are some water conservation tips:

  • Water your lawn during the cooler part of the day
  • Check for leaks in outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses
  • Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator or in the microwave instead of running water over it

More conservation tips can be found by CLICKING HERE.