Mission & History

Mission Statement

The mission of Montecito Water District is to provide an adequate and reliable supply of high quality water to the residents of Montecito and Summerland, at the most reasonable cost.

In carrying out this mission, the District places particular emphasis on providing outstanding customer service, conducting its operations in an environmentally sensitive manner, and working cooperatively with other agencies.

MWD History Highlights

1921 - Montecito residents voted to form a public water agency to provide quality water service to the community.

       1930 - Water system, including Juncal Dam / Jameson Lake, constructed and operable.

1958 - Cachuma Project, including Bradbury Dam forming Lake Cachuma, completed.

1979 - Montecito County Water District name changed to "Montecito Water District"

       1991 - Citizen vote to obtain State Project water and CCWA was formed.

       1991 - Partnered in construction of desalination plant with Goleta Water District and City of Santa Barbara

       1993 - Bella Vista Water Treatment Plant constructed.

       1995 - Summerland Water District dissolution / annexation to Montecito Water District

1997 - CCWA began State Water deliveries to Lake Cachuma on November 20th.

2010 - Start of historic, record-breaking drought

2014 - District applies allocation and consumption penalties through Ordinance 92

2016 - Allocations and penalties repealed

2018 - Historic drought culminates in Montecito's devastating debris flows following the Thomas Fire.

2020 - 50-year Water Supply Agreement executed by Montecito Water District and the City of Santa Barbara

History of Droughts in California

“Drought played a role in shaping California’s early history, as the so-called Great Drought in 1863-64 contributed to the demise of the cattle rancho system, especially in Southern California. Subsequently, a notable period of extended dry conditions was experienced during most of the 1920s and well into the 1930s, with the latter time including the Dustbowl drought that gripped much of the United States. Three twentieth century droughts were of particular importance from a water supply standpoint – the droughts of 1929-35, 1976-77, and 1987-92.”  Source of Reference

The area served by the District is categorized as semi-arid, has limited local water supplies, and is prone to cyclical drought. The recent multi-year drought is considered to have begun in 2007 or in 2010, depending upon source of reference.

California Water Timeline

State of California Water Basics: Drought