Irrigation adjustments and water bill rate information

Plants have different irrigation requirements at different times of the year. Weather and length of days also make a difference. We have just come through the highest water requirement period, July and August- sometimes this extends into September if weather stays hot. This year it certainly did!

Seasonal water adjustments are important. You may have a weather sensor installed on your controller and it will make those adjustments automatically. Or an informed person monitoring the system could make those adjustments manually.

“The Watering % Adjust is a percentage of the maximum amount of water you would apply on your landscape in July or August, when temperatures are high, rainfall is scarce and days are long.” The Watering % Adjust is updated weekly using data collected from a local weather station.

“If your irrigation controller (sprinkler timer) is equipped with a "water budget,” "%," or “seasonal adjust" feature, enter the percentage above to adjust your watering schedule.” See or  for more information.

The following information is about how rates are calculated for City of Santa Barbara water customers- however, most of the information is applicable or similar across water providers.

The unit of measure is HCFs (Hundred cubic feet of water, which equals 748 gallons).

The City of Santa Barbara bills customers based on tiers.

  • Tier One is the most basic use of water- about 3000 gallons of water. This amount is a very low rate to insure that the most low-income people among us are able to access a minimum amount of water for basic needs. The 1st 4 HCF on the water bill are charged at $4.44. 
  • Tier 2 is up to 16 HCFs a month, about 12,000 gallons. If you do laundry at home, you will probably get into Tier 2.  Your 5th-15th HCFs are charged at $12.96.
  • Tier 3 is when your water use goes above 16 HCFs. That is what has happened recently. The 16th HCF you use and any HCFs above that are charged at $23.98- almost double the previous tier.

That is why it’s important to look at the amounts of HCFs used, and not just the associated costs, to see when and if you can stay below 16 HCFs a month, to keep your water bill as low as possible.