While localities such as the City of Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria seem to be awash with water resources for the time being, Montecito’s water situation is not so bright. A week after the governor declared a statewide drought, Montecito finds itself in a situation similar to desert areas like Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. Being a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the coastal mountain range and the ocean, Montecito has very little area where groundwater could be stored. In addition, when rain falls, it doesn’t have much distance to travel and get soaked up by the ground before running into waterways and then the ocean. However, Tom Moseby, the General Manager of the Montecito Water District, pointed to another factor contributing to Montecito’s water shortfall that can be controlled: consumption.
Currently, 75 to 80 percent of the water used in Montecito is used for gardens and landscaping. “Due to the size of the properties here and people’s love for their gardens, we’re really using a lot of water,” said Moseby, noting that Montecitans use more water per capita than anywhere else on the South Coast, including the La Cumbre Water District, which services the Hope Ranch. According to Moseby’s figures, Santa Barbara city residents use a third as much water as Montecito, while Hope Ranch residents use about 21 percent less water on average. “It’s all about customer usage and bringing them back to a level we can sustain,” he said.