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Water Reduction Tips
updated: Jan 24, 2014, 11:00 AM

Source: County of Santa Barbara

On Friday January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed officials to take action and prepare for drought conditions. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors joined the State on Tuesday and proclaimed a local drought emergency. Both State and County Declarations call for an immediate voluntary 20% water reduction by residents. In response to the severe decrease in water resources, Santa Barbara County is reminding residents of the ways they can take action to reduce water use.


  • Outdoor watering can use 5-10 gallons of water per minute, which is more than all indoor uses combined. Test your irrigation system by manually turning it on to look for leaks, runoff, and waste. Schedule a free irrigation evaluation with your water provider.
  • Plants need more water in the spring and summer and less in the fall and winter. Adjust your irrigation schedule based on the seasons or weather.
  • For trees and shrubs, switch from overhead spray irrigation to drip. For turf, swap out regular sprinkler nozzles with more efficient rotating nozzles.
  • Consider replacing high water using turf with water wise or native plants.
  • For areas around trees and shrubs, be sure to have 3-4" of mulch in place to reduce evaporation and build healthy soil.


  • If you think you have a leak but can't find it, start by looking at your water meter.
  • Adjust the water level in toilet tank to be at least 1" below overflow. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 15 minutes. If color appears in bowl, your flapper needs replacing.
  • Older toilets use up to 4 gallons per flush. Buy a new WaterSense labeled toilet which uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less. ?
  • Older shower heads use up to 5 gallons per minute. Install a low flow shower head and keep showers to 5 minutes or less.
  • Install faucet aerators; look for 1.5 gpm for kitchen and 0.5 gpm for bathroom.
  • Don't let the faucet run when brushing your teeth, shaving, doing dishes, etc.
  • Dishwashers use between 4-10 gallons per load and clothes washers use between 25-40 gallons per load. Make sure to always run full loads of dishes and laundry and consider purchasing a WaterSense or Energy Star dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Install a ‘Laundry to Landscape' gray water system to water nearby trees and shrubs.
  • Learn how to conserve water and salt used in softeners. Set the hardness to 19 - 21 ppm. Consider switching to potassium chloride to reduce salt in recycled water systems.
  • Reverse Osmosis filtration: Change cartridges on schedule to reduce water waste. If you hear the tank pressurizing and recently used water, it's time to change your filter.

    For more information on conservation efforts, visit www.waterwisesb.org or www.saveourh20.org. You can also find current and historic rainfall and reservoir conditions at santabarbara.onerain.com.


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