SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

After months of warnings to cut back on water use, Santa Barbara water rates are going up as a way to use more force on those who are not reducing their consumption.

Cachuma Lake is at 34 percent of its capacity and dropping.

The water bills beginning July 1 in Santa Barbara have rates that show a small increase for low water users and a large increase for heavy water users.  The city has urged residents to cut their water use by 20 percent and drastically change their landscape irrigation, which is the main source of wasted water.

The bills arriving this month were based on water use from June.

Stage Two drought rules were approved by the City Council in May.

Warnings about the drought, low rainfall totals, and urgent water savings efforts came out six months ago.

Some tenants say they are worried their rents could be going up if water use in their buildings does not go down.

One landlord said her bill for last month went up 86 percent from her previous costs, even after asking her tenants to cut back.

Those who have cut back on water and see others waste it are upset at the overall impacts.

"It's so important, water.  What's more important than water?  And it's hard to imagine  I mean I see these lawns, you could be planting drought resistant plants," said Leslie Grogan, a renter in Santa Barbara who said she has cut back on her use, which is already small.

Another renter said she knows of someone who takes "three hour showers."

Santa Barbara has offered to meet residents for an inspection of their water use and will rebate up to $1000. for changes to improve water efficiency.

For information contact :http://www.waterwisesb.org/