Drought Relief Indicated, Yet Water Supply Shortage Remains in Effect

(Santa Barbara, California, February 23, 2019)

U.S. Drought Monitor - February 2019

The latest US drought monitor map shows the majority of the state, including Santa Barbara County, as no longer in drought conditions. While the drought may be over according to the US Drought Monitor, Montecito Water District remains in a water shortage condition. Below is a quick status update on each of our water supplies:

Jameson Lake - Jameson Lake is at 100% capacity since spilling on February 3, 2019. Unfortunately, this water is currently undeliverable due to water quality issues resulting from the Thomas Fire. We are increasingly hopeful that treatment plant enhancements will enable us to deliver an increased amount of water from Jameson Lake this year. Results on the effectiveness of the District's new treatment enhancements are expected in mid-late March.

Groundwater - This year’s above average rainfall will likely result in some recharge of the Montecito Groundwater Basin. Prior to this winter, the groundwater basin was at or near a historic low level. We anticipate it will take several years of above average rainfall before the basin will return to ‘normal’ conditions.

Lake Cachuma – While capacity is at 60% and climbing, the District’s allocation from the Cachuma project currently remains at 20%. We anticipate our Cachuma Project allocation will increase, potentially to 100% for 2019, but to date, USBR has not yet increased the allocation.

State Water Project – The 2019 SWP allocation remains below average at 35% irrespective of the significant rainfall and snowpack received across the state this winter. We anticipate this will likely increase but there is no certainty.

In summary, while it is heartening to be labeled clear of drought, the effect of this year’s significant rainfall and subsequent reservoir inflows on our overall water supply outlook for 2019 remains uncertain. At this time, it would be premature to conclude that our water shortage condition has ended. We will continue to reassess our water supply conditions and anticipate having a clearer picture at the end of winter / rainy season in late March. We will also continue to rely on our customers to maintain their outstanding conservation practices, and understand that our message remains consistent with the State’s: water conservation is a California way of life.

Montecito Water District's mission 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. For additional information visit montecitowater.com, like Montecito Water District on Facebook, and follow on twitter @MontecitoWater.