For the past century, Montecito Water District has reliably delivered water that meets the highest of standards — while striving to be a good steward of water resources and customer relationships.
Founded in 1921, Montecito Water District was established by public vote - an overwhelming majority! - to ensure long term availability of quality water to a rapidly growing community. By 1930, Juncal Dam and Jameson Lake were complete, and this remarkable resource continues to be a mainstay of the District's water supply portfolio. Always active and progressive, the District has capably and methodically enhanced its services with independent achievements and vital regional partnerships and projects over a century. Through its involvement with such important initiatives as the Cachuma Project, State Water Project, Cater Treatment Plant, Bella Vista Water Treatment Plant, Desalination, and more, the District has backed its reputation with the real assets needed to provide a reliable supply of water to the communities it serves day in and day out.
Now we’re taking action to ensure the next 100 years of reliable service.
Through a century of experience we've learned: Change is certain in all arenas. That's why we're determinedly preparing for the century ahead!
Community needs, climate, water supplies, opportunities to improve the way we provide service--all will require progress and adaptation and we plan to be ready.
To mark the District's 100th year, the District has completed a strategic plan to best identify priorities and focus resources. Building on its tradition of sound preparation, prudent fiscal management, community focus, and a culture of facing new challenges, the District's intent is to be well positioned to ensure a future of ongoing reliability and resilience.
Reliable water supply through 2121 and beyond? We say "Bring it!"
History + Assets
It’s important to understand where you came from. It’s equally vital to have a clear vision for where you want to go and grow. With an eye toward the next century and beyond, the District continues to diversify its portfolio of water sources as it builds towards a firm future.
In 2020, the District approved a 50-year water supply agreement with the City of Santa Barbara, backed by the City’s Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant. This agreement provides the District with 1,430 acre-feet of water annually and is nearly 100% reliable. Deliveries commenced in January of 2022, and will dramatically enhance the District’s long-term water supply outlook — providing around 35% of its current annual supply.
The District also remains at work around the clock maintaining and upgrading infrastructure - prioritizing care of aging facilities that are nearly 100 years old, and implementing advanced solutions whenever possible! Reliable water service depends on more than 110 miles of water distribution piping, along with storage reservoirs, wells, pump stations, and water treatment facilities. Water supply for fire protection is at the ready with nearly 950 fire hydrants District-wide. In 2020, more than 4,600 water meters were replaced with new ultrasonic water meters and transmitters. These will ultimately provide vital real-time data.
LEGACY OF SERVICE
Montecito Water District Timeline
Montecito Water District formed by popular vote.
Construction began on Doulton Tunnel, a horizontal well and conveyance from Jameson Lake through the Santa Ynez Mountains, which continues to be an important source of groundwater to this day.
Work began on Juncal Dam, completed in 1930.
Extreme Drought addressed by a new source of supply, Jameson Lake, named for John A. Jameson Board President in 1938.
Extreme Drought and increasing population lead to acquisition of a new source of supply, Cachuma Project, providing first delivery in 1954.
Extreme Drought and continued population increase lead to acquisition of a new source of supply, the State Water Project, with first deliveries taking place in 1997.
Partnered in construction of desalination plant with Goleta Water District and City of Santa Barbara.
Bella Vista Water Treatment Plant constructed to treat water from Jameson Lake in compliance with drinking water standards.
Montecito Water District merged with Summerland Water District.
Extreme Drought sets historic records. Surface water availability continues to be reduced as regulatory and environmental restrictions increase.
Adoption of 2015 Urban Water Management Plan redirecting the District towards more reliable future water supplies.
Acquisition of groundwater storage rights in Semitropic to bolster State Water Project supplies by storing surplus supplies during wet periods for use during below average or drought periods.
District initiates feasibility study for water reuse (recycling).
Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency established in accordance with SGMA: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Execution of 50-year Water Supply Agreement with the City of Santa Barbara provides a new rainfall independent source of supply, desalination. Deliveries commence January 1, 2022.
New ultrasonic meters installed District-wide for “smart meter” capability.
Reservoir Retrofit and Replacement Project initiated for eight District water storage tanks to improve resilience and longevity.
District evaluates additional opportunities for regional water use collaboration; introduces 5-Year Strategic Plan.
Community + Partnership
A lot can happen in 100 years. A lot has happened in the past 100 years. Through it all, Montecito Water District has not only survived, but thrived — no matter how daunting the challenges. We’re ready for what’s next, too.
Of course, we can’t do it without your help, either. We invite you to join us as a committed partner in the smart stewardship of our water supply.
Customers are our top priority. While day-to-day demands require adapability, the focus remains on serving our community. Our vision and execution stem from these key pillars.
Good Stewards of an Essential Resource
We’re all in this together. Working closely in concert with one another, we can all serve as responsible, smart stewards of a truly invaluable, vital resource. As the State faces more frequent and prolonged droughts, the District remains in a Stage 1 Water Emergency that includes water use restrictions in alignment with California’s “Conservation is a California Way of Life” campaign. Our ongoing, ever-evolving conservation efforts include complimentary “water efficiency check-ups,” which can be conducted in English or Spanish; in-person or virtually.
Environmental sensitivity is a consideration in all of our activities. The District also remains laser-focused on implementing a recycled water project. This project will effectively and efficiently extend drinking water supplies, further enhance water supply reliability, and help address potential challenges posed by future droughts.
The District takes fiscal responsibility seriously. As a public agency, the District is subject to regular rigorous audits, and routinely receives the most favorable ratings available. By attending closely to its financial health over the past few years the District has realized significant improvements through debt restructuring and other smart measures.
The District manages its finances to provide customers with value through reliable, high-quality water service at the most reasonable cost. Rates and fees are developed using careful engineering and financial analysis of service costs, and are always subject to public review. While the majority of the District’s costs are fixed, customers are charged based on a combination of fixed cost and the amount of water used. An important goal is providing a fair rate structure that also encourages water conservation.
People + Service
Montecito Water District is a not-for-profit public water agency. Governed by a 5-member Board of Directors elected to 4-year terms by District voters.
Staffed by ±30 employees dedicated to water supply, treatment, and distribution. As a team, the District's focus is on maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction through responsive and professional service. Technological advancements are also important. Most business can now be conducted online at montecitowater.com — including a 24/7 online bill pay portal and access to the District calendar, instructions, and forms.
Water Quality + Safety
Compliance with all State and Federal water quality standards is essential. The District employs state-certified water treatment professionals who blend round-the-clock monitoring with extensive analysis. Only the highest quality water is delivered to our valued customers. Water quality details are published in our annual Consumer Confidence Report.
Public health and safety is always a top priority for the District. As we face new challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the District will continue to evolve its practices as needed, driven by its commitment to the people we serve.
As we look to the future, we’re proud to build on a tradition of reliability, service, and proven accomplishments. Our goal is to ensure continuation--the ongoing delivery of high-quality water 24/7, 365 days a year. The way we see it, the first 100 years was only the beginning.