Experts give some tips
With Santa Barbara County currently in a state of extreme drought, there are various actions local residents can take to help conserve water and mitigate drought impacts.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report, 85% of the state is in extreme drought, and 33% is in the monitor’s most severe category listing of “exceptional drought.” With the winter rainy season still months away, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 15% last week in 50 counties across the state, including Santa Barbara County.
WaterWiseSB, the local hub for all things water conservation, has a few tips for local residents.
When it comes to landscaping, WaterWiseSB recommends replacing grass with turf and using “waterwise” or native plants. In yard areas with trees and shrubs, it has recommended residents place three or four inches of mulch to reduce evaporation.
In addition, residents should test their irrigation systems by manually turning the system three to four times a year to look for leaks, runoff and waste.
According to Kalani Durham, the water conservation supervisor for the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, landscape irrigation accounts for half of residential water consumption statewide.
“Continued drought conditions have made us aware how important it is to practice good water saving habits to live sustainably,” Ms. Durham told the News-Press.
She later added, “Water conservation is a lifestyle here in our county, and we have no water to waste, so really this is a community effort on behalf of all of us.”
David Matson, the assistant general manager of the Goleta Water District, recommends residents save water outdoors by also limiting their watering to just two days a week or less and watering before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. to reduce evaporation. He also recommends checking for small leaks in sprinklers or hoses, as this can add up over time.
To save water indoors, the county recommends keeping showers to about five minutes and purchasing a new WaterSense toilet that only uses 1.28 gallons per flush. Over the course of a year, residents who use a WaterSense toilet can save up to 13,000 gallons of water per year.
In addition, community members can conserve water by installing faucet aerators, turning off the sink when brushing teeth or scrubbing hands and always running the dishwasher or laundry machines when the loads are full.
By taking these steps, individuals can not only help mitigate the effects of the drought on water supply, but they can also benefit from a lower water bill, according to Ms. Durham.
“Santa Barbara County did a good job stepping up water conservation efforts in response to the last drought,” Ms. Durham said. “We saw that residents made permanent changes by replacing their lawns with waterwise landscaping and making plumbing upgrades. Water conservation is a lifestyle here, and it’s important to help us live more sustainably.”
At this point, Mr. Matson said the current drought conditions are not expected to “significantly impact” the Goleta Water District’s ability to serve customers.
However, he does expect the drought to cause an increased drain on water resources.
“Looking ahead over the next two years, we know that without additional rain the Goleta Valley could be on the brink of another Water Shortage Emergency, but right now our planning efforts and existing supplies remain sufficient to meet the needs of our already conservation-conscious community,” Mr. Matson told the News-Press in an email.
For more information, visit waterwisesb.org.