The Montecito Water District is urging its customers to ramp up water conservation efforts because Santa Barbara County remains in a state of extreme drought.
According to data released from the National Drought Mitigation Center Thursday, many counties along the Central Coast are in a state of extreme drought, including Santa Barbara County. As the impacts of climate change take hold, officials from the Montecito Water District, which serves customers in Montecito and Summerland, say action is needed to make sure there is enough water supply for the current drought and future ones.
“With the drought condition worsening, we are asking all customers to partner with us immediately to reduce usage,” Nick Turner, the general manager of the Montecito Water District, said in a statement. “The district is well positioned with a drought-resilient portfolio, but customer use is now over budget and supplies are not unlimited.”
The district said reducing water consumption is a must as the region faces unknowns in terms of future droughts. Officials are encouraging all customers to compare current water usage to prior years and make adjustments to reduce use.
The effort to prepare for future droughts comes after the Montecito Water District Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of Resolution 2212 to adopt the Urban Water Management Plan 2020. The plan will now be submitted to the California Department of Water Resource. It will be filed before the July 1 deadline.
The plan was developed over several months with feedback from the district board, staff and members of the public. Within it, officials recognized three unique service challenges facing the Montecito Water District in its service area.
First, officials noted that inaccurate census data has made it difficult to get an accurate count of how many residents live in the district’s service area in Montecito and Summerland.
Part of the problem is that it’s hard to account for seasonal or summer homes in the region. Therefore, it’s difficult to track the number of people residing in the area seasonally, according to the district.
In response to this complication, staff plans to continue to research methods to account for the area’s unaccounted population and collect data that better reflects water demand.
The second challenge facing the Montecito Water District has to do with the state’s incentives for urban retail water suppliers who deliver water from a groundwater basin, reservoir or other source that is replenished by potable reuse water.
Currently the state does not identify desalinated water as part of the incentive program, and district staff are requesting that the state expand the incentive program to include this kind of water.
The final challenge identified in the plan has to do with the growing trend of residential and community garden projects. This could include small personal farms, hobby gardens or community food producers, and even small agricultural operations run on parcels across the service area.
With these projects requiring adequate water sources, staff plan to monitor Department of Water Resource guidance for small agricultural operations.