Stage II Water Shortage Emergency December 2014 Update

Stage II Water Shortage Emergency Update

The last several years have been abnormally dry, so it’s exciting to see some of the first winter rainfall move into the region.  However, even with the recent rains Lake Cachuma is still at historic lows, and the Stage II Water Shortage Emergency and mandatory water use restrictions are still in effect. 

Outdoor watering with fixed irrigation systems remains limited to before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays for Residential, and Tuesdays and Fridays for Businesses. Manual watering (including a sprinkler attached to a hose) is allowed before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. on no more than two days per week.  All hoses must have a shut-off nozzle.  Don’t forget to check your sprinklers for leaks or overwatering as irrigation resulting in runoff is prohibited.

Looking for ways to save water when it rains? Turn off your sprinklers when rain is in the forecast and don’t water until the ground dries out, which is usually a week after the last rain.  With cooler winter temperatures plants need less water so remember to adjust your irrigation controller according to the watering calculator available at  You can also visit the District’s new Edible Garden which utilizes a rain barrel, sustainable drainage and rain catchment technologies, and infiltration ponds to use rainwater. The District Demonstration Gardens are open to the public during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Background on the Stage II Water Shortage Emergency Declaration

On September 9, 2014 the Goleta Water District Board of Directors declared a Stage II Water Shortage Emergency and established mandatory water use restrictions. These restrictions are necessary to cut water use by 25% district-wide. Even with customer investment in a diverse water supply portfolio and careful management, the declaration was triggered by a 16% reduction in the District’s projected 12 month supply following three years of intense drought. The declaration is also necessary to comply with recently adopted State Emergency Regulations that place mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering.

To comply with the voter approved SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance, adopted in a 1991 ballot initiative, the Board of Directors voted to prohibit the approval of applications for new or additional potable water connections, effective October 1, 2014. SAFE requires this action when water delivery from Lake Cachuma is reduced below 100%.

As over half of all water used in the Goleta Valley is used outdoors, mandatory water use restrictions primarily target outdoor use. 

Watering landscaping is restricted to no more than two times per week during early morning or late evening hours. Residential properties using fixed (i.e. installed sprinkler systems) may water Wednesdays and Saturdays, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Businesses using fixed irrigation systems may water Tuesdays and Fridays, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Manual watering (including a sprinkler attached to a hose) is allowed before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m., any two days per week. Wasting water is prohibited, including watering in a way that results in runoff from the property, and allowing water to escape from plumbing breaks for more than 48 hours. Water features such as fountains must recirculate and can only be used on residential properties, or if they are home to aquatic life.

Hoses used for any purpose must be equipped with a shut-off nozzle. Direct application of water to sidewalks, pavements, open ground, or other hard surfaced area, as well as washing buildings, dwellings or other structures, is generally prohibited. Vehicles and boats may only be washed at commercial car washing facilities or with a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle. 

Restaurants are prohibited from serving water unless requested by the patron. Hotels, motels, and other lodging are encouraged to post water shortage notices and water conservation tips, and refrain from daily linen washing unless specifically requested by the patron. Gyms, athletic clubs, public pools, and other similar establishments are encouraged to post water shortage notices at their facilities and promote shortened showers.  Residents are encouraged to use pool covers, which reduce water loss associated with evaporation. Rebates for pool covers will be available while supplies last.

The District is working with agricultural customers using water to irrigate commercial crops, including nurseries, to encourage conservation activities that minimize crop loss such as avoiding watering during daylight hours and using efficient irrigation systems. 

Repeated violations will be penalized with fines ranging from $100 up to $500. However, the District is focusing on educating customers about the new Stage II Water Shortage restrictions and initial infractions will first receive a written warning so that the customer can correct the problem. If a subsequent violation occurs, a notice of violation will be issued.  Only after the written warning and a notice of violation will a $100 fine be issued, with repeated violations receiving escalating fines. Customers seeking an exception must complete a written application, and include the specific regulation for which the exception is requested, the reason for the request, and supporting documentation that demonstrates the need for an exception. Information on how to request an exception, or appeal a fine can be found by clicking here.

The District is requesting the help of the public in reporting violations of Stage II restrictions, instances of water waste, and suspected cases of water theft. Members of the public who witness unauthorized use of water are encouraged to contact the District immediately at (805)964-6761 with the date, time, and location (address) of the incident. Photos are encouraged and will help the District identify the individual and impose penalties. 

(Published December 18, 2014)