A multi-year effort to protect and extend water supplies

Goleta valley

The District has long been at the forefront of conservation, and we have been actively managing the current drought since it began in 2012.  The Goleta Valley’s long history of drought means Goleta Water District customers understand the value of water and the need to conserve.  Residential per capita water use is among the lowest in the state, and there is high consciousness among customers of the need to conserve water supplies.  The use of water efficient appliances and fixtures is wide-spread in homes and businesses throughout the community.  Local agricultural businesses employ some of the most aggressive water efficiency protocols in the state of California, including the prevalent use of data gathered from CIMIS monitoring stations to match irrigation to local weather patterns.

Actively managing for the drought has been a multi-year effort with a number of initiatives:

  • Adoption of a Drought Preparedness and Water Shortage Contingency Plan.
  • Sophisticated supply and demand model to project 12 and 24 month supply.
  • Declaration of a Water Shortage Emergency (currently escalated to Stage III).
  • Moratorium on issuing new water connections under the SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance.
  • Early update of the Infrastructure Improvement Plan to reflect changing water supply conditions.
  • Water Saving Incentive Program to help businesses implement water conservation projects.
  • Smart Landscape Rebate Program to replace water thirsty turf.
  • Water Saving Devices Program to provide low-flow shower heads, toilet leak detection kits, faucets aerators and sprinkler hose nozzles.
  • Cash for Crops program to encourage farmers to temporarily take crops out of production.
  • Water Budgets Software to help large customers track and manage their water use.
  • Agricultural Water Use Surveys  to improve water use efficiency.
  • Mandatory water use restrictions for all customer classes.
  • Active investment in the District well program, which includes 7 active wells, with 4 under rehabilitation and plans to drill 2 more as groundwater becomes the primary source of water.
  • Drought surcharge.
  • Free water conservation check ups.
  • Active investigation and enforcement of water waste reports.
  • Lawsuit to defend the Goleta Groundwater Basin and protect customer water supply.
  • Customer Scorecard Program to work with Top Users to detect leaks and reduce usage.
  • Targeted public information campaign to all customers.

This planning has allowed the District to delay the more significant drought impacts, minimize the economic harm to the community associated with more severe restrictions such as banning outdoor irrigation or agricultural irrigation, and ensure adequate supplies of water remain available for drinking, public health and safety.

Despite all of these efforts, all the planning in the world cannot prevent a deepening of the drought if it does not rain.  After four long years of drought there is only so much water remaining, and without substantial winter rains there will not be enough water to continue business as usual.  We are rapidly approaching a point at which using more water than is needed for drinking, health and public safety actively compromises the community.

The Goleta Valley community depends on each of us doing our part. Thank you for your conservation efforts to date which have contributed to putting us in a better position than if we had not conserved.  We appreciate your help as additional future savings must be realized to preserve adequate supplies for public health and safety needs.  Let’s all save water together.

(Published December 14, 2015)