Surveyors analyzing the decrease of snow in California.
Surveyors analyzing the decrease of snow in California. Source:

One month ago, California Governor Jerry Brown made a grave announcement: “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action. […] Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

In Santa Barbara County, where Dylan Chappell Architects is based, the beautiful weather and landscape that attracts many prospective homeowners can make the dire water situation seem like a distant problem. But our low rainfall means more than sunny days at the beach. (Just check out the national drought map below, from the National Drought Mitigation Center, if you don’t believe us. We live in the heart of the problem). How can homeowners balance the desire to live in comfort in “the American Riviera” with our ecological responsibilities?

U.S. Drought Monitor forCalifornia


It’s a big question. A good place to start is by asking yourself, “Do you know your water usage?” A clear picture of the problem is, after all, the beginning of every great solution.

While many are worried about the future of design, Charles Anderson of Werk sees opportunity, “If there weren’t constraints, big things wouldn’t happen. If it wasn’t difficult, amazing things wouldn’t happen.”

We agree with fellow architect Robert Baker, who says, “Water conservation measures should be used in the early design of all new buildings to deal with growing demand and ever growing shortages whether it is for residential, industrial, agricultural or commercial use. In existing buildings it is still possible to reduce water consumption through new fittings and fixtures such as low/dual flush toilets, aerated taps.” These are important questions to ask whether you are thinking about a remodel, an addition, or an entirely new project. Trent Kelly, a LEED-certified designer here at DCA says:

Designing a sustainable home with more efficient water usage strategies enables a homeowner to operate more normally during inevitable times of drought. Along with a decrease in the need for water, there’s a decrease in the energy needed to produce and deliver water to your home. Also, utilizing drought tolerant or native vegetation in your landscape design will not only save you water (and money), but your home and property will ultimately look more appropriate for the site.

As Californians, pulling together to save water means implementing smart solutions. Schedule a consultation today to discuss what might be right for your project, your budget, and your lifestyle.


If your on the liter system here is a helpful water calculator from Bushmans Saving Austrail’s Water.



This post is part of a DCA series on the


For more water-conscious thinking:

Water-Wise Landscaping

Conscientious Construction: Water-Wise Building Practices & the Ventura County Decision

This Just In: Santa Barbara City Council May Declare a Stage Three Drought Emergency

Learn about drought-tolerant plants for the Santa Barbara area

View dramatic photos of California’s historic drought

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