SOLVANG, Calif. -

Even if an official drought has not been declared by the state, Solvang is not waiting to start ordering an immediate cutback in use by its customers.

Mayor Jim Richardson says the city now in a stage one drought restrictions.

That includes many rules including a 15-percent cutback in use by all customers,  in restaurants water will only be served on request, and outside landscape watering has to be done at night.

Richardson says he has even found a way to save on his own water costs, beyond the cuts he made by going to a drought tolerant landscaping at his home.  "And I brought a landscaper in and found out I have been over watering my drought tolerant plants, and I saved a hundred dollars a month,  just in reducing the water that I use," said Richardson.

Many other residents have already cut back and it is noticeable.

One resident Lisa Smith said she has completely taken out her front lawn. She thinks the city should have ordered water restrictions weeks ago.  "I don't know what took them so long," said Smith.

She has seen water supplies dwindling, and no rain clouds overhead.

"When you go past Lake Cachuma how can you go past that and come home and water your lawn, in good conscience?," said Smith.

The lake is over 51 feet down from the spill level at Bradbury Dam and is under 40 percent of its capacity.

One rare sight is a bridge crossing, that is normally covered in water, but exposed near Highway 154 due to the low water level.   Nearby deer are grazing in an area that usually has an inflow from what is now a dry Santa Ynez River.

Santa Barbara County Supervisors are very concerned about the lake levels, and whether the extended forecast  will bring enough rain to start increasing the supplies.

"There dry years are great for tourism, but they are lousy for our water supplies," said Richardson who remains optimistic.   "And after drought there is rain, and some droughts are longer and some droughts are shorter."

Slideshow: Water Levels at Lake Cachuma at Under 40% of Capacity

POSTED: 11:13 AM PST Jan 15, 2014    UPDATED: 12:00 AM PST Jan 16, 2014 

The Lake Cachuma is over 51 feet down from the spill level at Bradbury Dam and is under 40 percent of its capacity.

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