On The Waterfront: District Reports Good Water Supply News on Several Fronts


Montecito Water District has succeeded on multiple fronts to maintain water supplies during this exceptional drought and begun developing a permanently reliable long-term water supply. There is good news to report, including: a breakthrough in progress on developing desalinated water; a recent purchase of supplemental water that extends our water supply through two more dry winters if necessary; and the continuing exceptional conservation by customers.

Desalination breakthrough. With our service boundary contiguous to the ocean, desalinating ocean water is the best choice to provide a local, permanent, secure, and reliable water supply for Montecito. To do this, the District is continuing to explore two paths: seeking to participate in the City’s desalination facility, and a parallel path for the District to build its own desalination facility that would be owned and built by the Water District.

A breakthrough occurred recently with receipt of a letter from the State Coastal Commission confirming that the regional use of desalination water from Santa Barbara would be allowed under the existing Coastal Development permits. District staff have worked for many months to help obtain this necessary regulatory confirmation.

With receipt of the Coastal Commission letter, City staff may have the green light to move the possible regional use of their desalination facility to the City council for consideration. MWD is hopeful that this matter will be scheduled for discussion by City officials in the latter part of September.

The permit confirmation follows nearly a year of work by the District, engaging with: the Governor’s office, Coastal Commission, California Environmental Protection Agency, State Lands Commission, state Natural Resources agency, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and others.

More Good News: Purchase of Additional Supplemental Water. The District has searched up and down the state for supplemental water to purchase, and has obtained a substantial amount in the last several years. The District recently acquired 750 acre-feet of additional supplemental water, equivalent to about 3 months of supply at current usage rates.

District Has Enough Water Available Until Development of Desalination. With the recent supplemental water supply acquisition, and continuing conservation by customers, our water supply is now estimated to last through two more dry winters into the spring of 2017. We are working toward having desalinated water available by that time.

Drilling Ultra Deep Well In Search of New Water. Discussions are continuing with a company that uses satellite and other advance exploration technology to tap into ultra-deep groundwater supplies. They use analysis of satellite data followed by ground surveys to identify potentially large volumes of water up to a mile below the surface. If an agreement is reached, the company would cover all the upfront costs and risks of drilling. If they obtain water, the District would be required to buy water at a pre-agreed-upon price.

For more information about our activities to secure reliable water supplies or about any other local water related topic, please go to montecitowater.com or call us at (805) 969-2271.

Montecito Water District Board of Directors