Good News Across the Board

(Montecito, California, April 20, 2017)

Purchase of Groundwater Storage

Montecito Water District’s Board of Directors convened on Tuesday this week. Topping the agenda was a recommendation for the District to purchase groundwater storage capacity through the Semitropic Water Storage District Groundwater Banking Program. The Board acted to reserve 1,500 shares at a total purchase price of $1,890,000. This action is expected to improve the reliability of the State Water Project (SWP) by ensuring an ability to recover a minimum of 1,500 acre feet (or more) per year from the water bank to supplement the District’s annual SWP allocation, which historically averages less than 60%. In addition, this arrangement provides for the storage of surplus water up to 4,500 acre feet (or more) during periods of normal or wet hydrologic conditions for use during future periods of drought. It is distinguished from other groundwater banking options primarily because it represents the purchase of a long-term asset, providing an initial 18-year term with possible contract extensions.

Groundwater banking is an effective tool for increasing water supply reliability and security. Acquiring local and regional groundwater storage has become a priority for the District, particularly since February of this year, when torrential rain around the State "spilled" San Luis Reservoir. The spill meant lost water for SWP participants, including Montecito Water District and other Santa Barbara County agencies.

"Reliance on surface water reservoirs such as Lake Cachuma or San Luis Reservoir for storage of surplus water inherently has risks such as significant loss to evaporation, and potential for spill during years with above average rainfall," said District General Manager, Nick Turner. "Semitropic is an established groundwater storage bank serving numerous water agencies, and this direction represents sound strategy for the District."

"This is the best thing since sliced bread," commented long-time Board Director, W. Douglas Morgan.

2015 Urban Water Management Plan Update

The Board also reviewed and commented on the Draft 2015 Urban Water Management Plan Update (UWMP). The Plan, mandated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR,) is a strategic planning tool covering a 20-year period in five year increments, providing the framework for long-term water supply planning to ensure adequate water supplies to meet existing and future customer demands through 2035. It also documents the District’s progress towards compliance with Senate Bill X7-7, requiring a 10% reduction in overall water consumption by 2015 and a 20% reduction by 2020. The analysis included in the UWMP shows the District is in full compliance with the 2015 interim reduction target, with projections indicating full compliance in 2020. The UWMP will be presented for Public Hearing at the District’s May 16th regular Board Meeting, with a goal of subsequent adoption by the Board and submittal to the Department of Water Resources.

MWD/MFPD Partnership for Infrastructure Replacement

Water supply for fire protection is a key concern, and to this end the District partners with Montecito Fire Protection District in an annual fire hydrant replacement program to ensure that equipment is up-to-date and fully deployable when needed. Tuesday’s meeting confirmed that six additional fire hydrants were replaced in fiscal year 2016/17, marking the successful achievement of a shared goal to eliminate dated "Dry Barrel" hydrants. Thirty Dry Barrel hydrants needing replacement remain in Montecito Water District’s service area, 8 in the jurisdiction of the City of Santa Barbara and 22 in Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District. Montecito Water District is in communication with both agencies regarding the possibility of implementing similar programs for continued community benefit and safety.

Additional Good News

The District’s State Water Project 2017 allocation was increased to 85% (2,805 AF) on Friday, April 14, as reported in the Long-Term Water Supply Update. In addition, as a result of the significant increase in storage in Lake Cachuma which currently sits at over 50% of total capacity, the District is anticipating a mid-year 40% allocation (1,060 acre feet) of water from Lake Cachuma with a subsequent allocation of 1,060 acre feet likely to be issued around October 1st, 2017. Current available supplies show sufficient water to meet customer demands with a moderate increase in customer usage (22%) for the next three years. Conservation remains a priority for the District and the community is encouraged to prevent water waste in every way possible.

Founded in 1921, The Montecito Water District serves a population of approximately 13,100, providing water to more than 4,600 customers. The 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