The City of Santa Barbara experienced the driest year in more than a century this past year. Only 5.97 inches of rain fell at El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant, the lowest since 1898, when 4.57 inches fell. Lake Cachuma, the primary source of water for the city and other South Coast jurisdictions, is still 80 percent full thanks to above average rainfall in previous years, and provides at least five years of water storage.
But city officials are still preaching conservation. Despite an increase in population and increased irrigation use because of the dry spell, potable water usage in the city is down 15 percent from the 1980s because of conservation and water recycling programs by the city.