Santa Barbara- S County

Montecito Residents Reduce Water Use By 40 Percent

Water District Will Not Run Out Of Water In July As Expected Due To Conservation

Montecito Residents Conserve More Than 40 Percent

MONTECITO, Calif. - The water district said it will not run out of water in July as expected due to residents conserving water.

El Montecito Presbyterian Church on East Valley Road is one of the water customers helping curb outdoor water use. The large grassy area in front of the building is dead. The landscaping look is a big change from just a few months ago.

In February mid-day sprinklers saturated the grass in the front of the church, just one day after Montecito declared a water emergency.

Since then, El Montecito Presbyterian Church has done a 180-degree turn. The once-lush lawn is now brown.

"I do believe it does make a statement. A lot of people have commented to me, 'What's going on at the church?' I just tell them, 'Well we basically stopped watering the lawn. It's there to remind everybody that we are in a water shortage,'" said Shawn Monroe, the church groundskeeper.

Businesses and residents have cut back from extreme watering, too.

"When you look at customer usage from March through May of this year and compare it to the previous year's usage, it's about a 40 percent reduction," said Karl Meier, the engineering manager at the Montecito Water District.

Comparing months this year to last year, 47 percent of water use was saved in March, 43 percent in April and 38 percent in May.

Meier said since the water rationing began in March, there has been a big change. Strict rules for residents encouraged turning off the tap or they will face penalties.

"Every customer receives a monthly allocation. If they exceed it, they are penalized at $30 per unit -- unit being about 748 gallons of water," he said.

The water savings will help the area get through the summer, but Montecito still isn't in the clear. The district will have to buy supplies from the State Water Project starting in October.

But right now, residents are glad their reductions are helping.

"It makes me very happy because that means that in the future I'll be able to continue to take showers in the morning. So that's a great thing for me," said Monroe with a laugh.

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