It seemed fitting that on a scorching Santa Barbara day, the City Council’s Ordinance Committee amended its code for unlawful water use and regulations during a water shortage. Tuesday’s action was primarily procedural — it cleaned up legal language — but foreshadowed a resolution that will likely be implemented by the council in upcoming weeks. Nearly three months ago, City Hall declared a Stage One drought. Such little rain has fallen since that staff will propose that councilmembers up the ante to Stage Two on May 20.
Among a host of regulations, the resolution would mandate hoses and faucets to have self-closing valves and forbid washing pavements (except by pressure washers). Sprinklers would only be allowed between the hours of 6 p.m.-8 a.m., and residents could only manually water their lawns between 4 p.m.-10:30 a.m. Use of ornamental water fountains — except ones with fish or wildlife — would be forbidden. (The dolphin fountain at Stearns Warf has been shut off.) Pools — which use much more water than needed to irrigate lawns — would need to be covered when not in use, and owners would need to limit draining and refilling. Restaurants and hotels would be required to post drought notices and refrain from serving water unless requested by customers. The Water Resources division will issue a written notice for first violations and up to a $250 fine for the second and third offenses. Four-time violators could have flow restrictions installed on their property or have their water shut off.
In other water news, the City Council approved an $8.5 million contract with Schock Contracting Corporation to upgrade the Tertiary Filtration Plant, a recycled-water plant that was first constructed in 1989 to reduce the need for potable water. The renovation should be finished by next summer.