SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Restarting Santa Barbara's ocean water desalination plant will cost an estimated $20-million. 

City Administrator Jim Armstrong says he's been asked several times recently if that is a  consideration due to the serious conditions developing with dwindling water supplies.

The desalination facility was built in the early 90's during a prolonged drought at a cost of $34 million. After it opened, rainfall increased and the plant was never regularly used.

Currently, Lake Cachuma, the largest water supplies for the South Coast (Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria) has under 40 percent of its full capacity.   Water use in the month of January this year from the lake is already exceeding 2013.

Santa Barbara County joined in the state's action to declare a drought emergency.  Residents have been asked to cut their water use by 20 percent.  

Some restaurants are only serving water on request, as part of the conservation plans.