Although Californians slipped just below Gov. Brown’s mandated 25 percent water conservation goal recently, Santa Barbarans have saved 34 percent since the Stage 3 water restrictions were called in May 2015. The state has been under mandatory conservation for urban areas since June 2015, but came in at 23.9 percent compared to the same period of water usage in 2013. Nonetheless, that represents 1.19 million acre-feet of water saved from June to February 2016 statewide, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Madeline Ward, the city’s water conservation coordinator, believed the ongoing upgrades to plumbing fixtures and water conservation practices that residents have adopted during previous droughts allowed Santa Barbara to save 40 percent more water in March 2016 than in March 2013. That’s a 10 percent rise over February’s 30 percent, which Ward attributed to the rains in March that enabled residents to turn off their landscape sprinklers and otherwise avoid overwatering their gardens. Currently, Santa Barbara’s main reservoirs — Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar Reservoir — sit at 14.9 percent and 18.1 percent of capacity, respectively.