SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Last year was one of the driest on record for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, but the City of Santa Barbara isn't declaring a drought just yet.
Santa Barbara is in its third year with below-average rain fall.
"For me it's a foreign language coming from Chicago. We just water our lawn and don't think about it," said Shaw McFarlan.
McFarlan enjoys the California sunshine since moving to Santa Barbara a few months ago. But a drought is one thing he didn't think he'd have to worry about.
He said his neighbors have cut back on watering the grass so he followed suit.
But the experts aren't calling it a drought and there's a reason for that.
"Periods without rain are normal, it happens. What we don't want to do is wear out the word 'drought' and I think we are getting to the point where we are going to use it and we want people to respond accordingly," said Joshua Haggmark, the Santa Barbara City acting water resources manager.
That point could come as soon as March.
"It's dependent on rainfall. So we're all crossing our fingers and hoping for rain right now," said Alison Jordan, the city water conservation supervisor.
If it stays dry, city leaders would declare a Stage 1 drought.
"If we declared a Stage 1, it would be an additional item to really focus on trying to conserve as much as possible, even if we are trying to water to keep plants alive during this dry period," said Jordan.
Turning off the hose and sprinklers in front yards could do some good.
"Fifty percent of the city's water use is used outside of the home," said Haggmark.
If the rain clouds continue to stay away, mandatory water reductions would come in October.
For now, McFarlan and his neighbors will continue to conserve.
"It affects everybody so I hope there's a solution at hand for us all," he said.
For more information on how to conserve, click here.