Drought Information

CAdroughtRecognizing persistent yet less severe drought conditions throughout California, on May 18, 2016, the State Water Board adopted an emergency water conservation regulation that replaces the February 2 emergency regulation. The May 2016 regulation that will be in effect from June 2016 through January 2017 requires locally developed conservation standards based upon each agency's specific circumstances. It replaces the prior percentage reduction-based water conservation standard with a localized "stress test" approach. These standards require local water agencies to ensure a three-year supply assuming three more dry years like the ones the state experienced from 2012 to 2015. Water agencies that would face shortages under three additional dry years will be required to meet a conservation standard equal to the amount of shortage.

On Wednesday, November 30, 2016, State Agencies released to the public a draft report for "Making Water Conservation A California Way of Life". The Draft Report addresses elements of Executive Order B-37-16, which asked five state agencies to develop a framework for using water more wisely, eliminating water waste, strengthening local drought resilience, and improving agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning. The public agencies, including the Department of Water Resources, State Water Board, California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and Department of Food and Agriculture, will accept comments on the report through December 19, 2016

For more information, visit the State Water Resources Control Board Water Conservation Portal.

Local Conditions

The statewide drought conditions impact each purveyor differently due to the diverse water supply portfolios within the county. Contact your local provider for current and specific information on your area. 

To learn more about water supplies in Santa Barbara County and where your water provider receives its water sources, visit the Where Does Your Water Come From? page.

Local Outdoor Water Shortage Emergency Regulations

    Local Water Shortage Emergency Regulations

    Santa Barbara County
    Water Purveyor
    Emergency Shortage  Conservation Goal Drought Status & Restrictions
    Carpinteria Valley Water District Stage II 25%
    Stage II was declared on May 13, 2015. Ordinance 15-2 adopted mandatory water use restrictions to achieve an immediate 25% community-wide reduction. 
    • Irrigate before 8AM or after 6PM only two days per week (fixed systems)
    • Manually irrigate before 10 AM or after 4 PM only two days per week (by hand or moveable sprinkler)
    • Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle
    • No washing of buildings or hard surfaces such as hardscape, sidewalks and driveways
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    City of Buellton Stage II 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit
    Stage II was declared August 14, 2014. Resolution 14-19 was passed to adopt SWRCB's drought regulations as City rules. 
    • Irrigate before 8AM or after 6PM
    • No excess runoff
    • No washing of buildings or hard surfaces such as hardscape, sidewalks and driveways
    • No vehicle washing except at a carwash or with hose with a self-closing nozzle
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    City of Guadalupe Stage I 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit Statewide rules apply.
    City of Lompoc Stage II 12%
    The City has implemented No Water Wasting Restrictions on May 5, 2015.
    • Irrigate before 10AM or after 4PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays
    • No excess runoff
    • All water leaks must be fixed within 8 hours of detection or notification
    • A shut-off nozzle is required when washing a vehicle
    • No washing of hard surfaces
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    City of Santa Barbara Stage III 40%
    Stage III was declared on May 5, 2015 and on April 26, 2016 the conservation target increased to 35% citywide in overall water use. On December 6, 2016, City Council adopted turf grass (lawn) watering ban with an increased conservation target to 40%.
    • Effective January 1, 2017, irrigation of lawns is prohibited. See exceptions here.
    • Irrigate before 8AM or after 6PM (automatic systems)
    • Manually irrigate before 10:30AM or after 4PM
    • Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle
    • No washing of buildings or hard surfaces such as hardscape, sidewalks and driveways
    • Recirculating fountains with a water surface area greater than 25 ft2are prohibited unless located indoors,on residential property,or are home toaquatic life
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    City of Santa Maria Stage I 16% Statewide rules apply.
    City of Solvang Stage II 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit
    Stage II was declared on July 28, 2014. 
    • Irrigate before 6AM or after 10PM
    • No excess runoff
    • No vehicle washing except at a carwash
    • Immediate fixing of known leaks, etc. 
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    Cuyama CSD Stage II 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit Statewide rules apply.
    Stage I 32% Stage I was declared on July 1, 2015.
    • Irrigate before 8AM or after 7PM
    • Outdoor irrigation limited to 2 days per week assigned by address
    Goleta Water District Stage III 35%
    Stage III was declared on May 12, 2015 and calls for a 35% district-wide reduction.
    • Irrigate before 6AM or after 8PM (fixed systems)
    • Commercial landscape irrigation may occur only on Tuesdays and Fridays (fixed systems)
    • Residential landscape irrigation may occur only on Wednesdays and Saturdays (fixed systems)
    • Manually irrigate before 8AM or after 8PM only two days per week
    • Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle
    • No washing of buildings, hardscapes, sidewalks and driveways
    • Outdoor fountains, ponds, waterfalls, or any other outdoor water feature may not be maintained on commercial properties
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    Stage II 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit Stage II was declared on July 30, 2014 adopting SWRCB regulations.
    Los Alamos CSD Stage I 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit
    Board passed ordinance on August 27, 2014 adopting SWRCB regulations.
    Mission Hills CSD Stage I   25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit Statewide rules apply.
    Montecito Water District Stage IV 30%
    Stage IV was declared with the mandate that all customers reduce usage by 30% immediately. Ordinance 92 was passed to establish mandatory water use restrictions. Ordinance 93 was passed to impose a water supply allocation to each property. 
    • Irrigate before 7 AM or after 7 PM (fixed systems)
    • Manually irrigate before 10:30 AM or after 4 PM
    • No washing of hard surfaces such as hardscape, sidewalks and driveways
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request
    Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District ID#1 Stage I Voluntary 20%

    Resolution No. 753 was passed declaring the extension of a water supply shortage emergency within its service area, rescinding the Critical Water Supply Shortage Emergency of Stage 2 to a Stage 1 Water Supply Shortage, and adopting the Water Shortage Measures in Exhibit "A" on August 10, 2016.

    Vandenberg Village CSD Stage I 25% or 2-days/ week irrigation limit The District has implemented No Water Wasting Restrictions. 
    • Irrigate before 10AM or after 4PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays
    • No excess runoff
    • Irrigation during and within 48 hours following measurable rainfall is prohibited
    • Potable water is not to be used to clean outdoor hard surfaces, with exemptions for dangerous substances and commercial steam cleaning
    • All water leaks must be fixed as soon as possible after notification by VVCSD
    • A shut-off nozzle is required when washing a vehicle.
    • Restaurants may only serve water to customers upon request

    Notes: The provisions of each "stage" are not consistent across purveyors. However, the stages generally include the following:

    Stage 1: Voluntary cutbacks in water usage
    Stage 2: Mandatory restrictions on water usage (time of day, car washing, etc.)
    Stage 3: Mandatory cutbacks in water usage (e.g., must reduce by x%)
    Stage 4: Water Shortage Emergency with water rationing

    How Much Water Do We Have and Where Do We Get It From?

    What Can We Do to Conserve Water During a Drought?

    State and National Water Conservation Resources  

    Links to Water Resource Information


    What is a Drought?

    The Concept of Drought*

    Drought is a normal, recurrent feature of climate, although many erroneously consider it a rare and random event. It occurs in virtually all climatic zones, but its characteristics vary significantly from one region to another. Drought is a temporary aberration; it differs from aridity, which is restricted to low rainfall regions and is a permanent feature of climate.

    Drought is an insidious hazard of nature. Although it has scores of definitions, it originates from a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more. This deficiency results in a water shortage for some activity, group, or environmental sector. Drought should be considered relative to some long term average condition of balance between precipitation and evapotranspiration (i.e., evaporation + transpiration) in a particular area, a condition often perceived as "normal". It is also related to the timing (i.e., principal season of occurrence, delays in the start of the rainy season, occurrence of rains in relation to principal crop growth stages) and the effectiveness (i.e., rainfall intensity, number of rainfall events) of the rains. Other climatic factors such as high temperature, high wind, and low relative humidity are often associated with it in many regions of the world and can significantly aggravate its severity.

    Drought should not be viewed as merely a physical phenomenon or natural event. Its impacts on society result from the interplay between a natural event (less precipitation than expected resulting from natural climatic variability) and the demand people place on water supply. Recent droughts in both developing and developed countries and the resulting economic and environmental impacts and personal hardships have underscored the vulnerability of all societies to this "natural" hazard.

    *Excerpted from the National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.