With Santa Barbara County remaining in a state of extreme drought, the La Cumbre Water Company Board of Directors set a new goal this week to reduce voluntary water consumption by 20%.
The new measure comes as 88.4% of the state is currently facing extreme drought conditions, according to the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The intensifying conditions led Gov. Gavin Newsom to announce a drought emergency for 50 out of 58 counties last month, asking all residents to voluntarily cut water usage by 15% to preserve resources.
In the time since the governor’s declaration, La Cumbre Water District has seen a “slight conservation effort” among its customer base, but said greater efforts are needed to stretch water resources, General Manager Mike Alvarado told the News-Press. At this time, the company has adequate water supply to meet customer demand, but officials remain concerned about future supply.
“The importance (of water conservation) right now would be that we’d be able to stretch out resources and have water available for future use,” he said.
At this time, the state has reduced its water allocation, providing La Crumbre Water Company with just 5% of its normal allocation, Mr. Alvarado said. He added that this significant drop further emphasizes the importance of conservation at this time.
To participate in water conservation efforts, La Cumbre Water Company officials are recommending that its customers reduce irrigation and stop watering gardens at the hottest time of the day. Mr. Alvarado said irrigation is the number one water use among customers, and the company is currently offering water audits to help customers find where they can cut consumption.
“Water conservation needs to be encouraged,” Mr. Alvarado said. “Conserved water needs to be treated and managed like any other source of water, and our voluntary conservation goal is used to bring water use among our customers in line with demand. Each customer needs to make the decision to conserve, while maintaining their properties, as we are all in this together. The Water Company is here to assist our customers with water use reduction and conservation behaviors.”
As a shareholder-owner mutual water company, La Cumbre Water Company does not have the same access to state and federal funding as water districts, according to a news release. The company is working to increase presence in Washington D.C. and Sacramento to engage with elected officials, though effort is needed on the part of customers to ensure water resources remain available.
“Bottom line is that we live in a desert, and we need to take care of this precious natural resource,” Board President Alex Rodriguez said in a statement. “We are exploring several out-of-the-box solutions, but for now, all of us need to conserve as much as we can.”