By Raiza Giorgi

As Santa Barbara County only received 50 percent of average annual rainfall, local cities and community service districts are asking Santa Ynez Valley residents to voluntarily cutback their water usage. 

The City of Solvang recently declared a stage one drought emergency, which will call for a voluntary cutback of 15% usage. The City Council also approved purchasing of supplemental water. 

Buellton is also monitoring its water consumption and time will tell if the community doesn’t voluntarily conserve water. 

“The drought does continue in California yet another year. I’m working with my water staff who’s been watching the consumption trends in town,” said Rose Hess, public works director/ city engineer for the City of Buellton. “Our primary emphasis will be community outreach to reduce water usage and conserve as much as possible. We will monitor the consumption trends. We don’t want to go to mandatory reductions.” 

Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District #1 (ID1) officials say they have maintained a non-emergency designation since 2017, which asks for 10% water voluntary reduction. 

The designation prohibits water runoff from customer properties; landscape irrigation within 48 hours of measurable rainfall; requirement to equip water hoses with automatic shutoff devices; no washing streets, parking lots, driveways, or sidewalks except as needed for health or sanitation purposes; encouraging restaurants, hotels, cafes, and other public establishments to provide water only upon request; and encouraging hotels to display water conservation signs and provide guests with options for not having towels and linens laundered daily.  

“These types of conservation measures have been very effective throughout ID No.1, where over the last several years our total annual water demands have trended below historic averages,” said Paeter Garcia, general manager of ID1.