Will Precious Water Spill?


(Santa Barbara, California, January 31, 2017)

February 15th is now the projected spill date for San Luis Reservoir according to Ray Stokes, Executive Director of the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA). Literally years of water supply is at stake for Santa Barbara County’s agencies that have taken costly precautions to ensure reliable delivery in the face of ongoing drought. Combined, approximately 30,000 acre-feet of water is stored for CCWA participants including the City of Santa Barbara, Goleta Water District, Carpinteria Water District, Montecito Water District, Vandenberg Village Community Services District, and the City of Santa Maria. While torrential rains around the state are filling many rivers and reservoirs to the brim, agencies can’t get water out of San Luis Reservoir quickly enough to make way for the new incoming water (2017 State Water Project Table A allocation) due to the state water project’s limited delivery capacity. The spill results not from the rain itself, but from the complicated equation of California water rights, and will happen over time and on paper. Actual water is not lost, it is reallocated.

Montecito Water District is doing everything it can to prevent even one drop of water from being taken off the books. Actions include constant contact with CCWA, frequent meetings and rapid negotiations with potential partners who might have capacity to assist with delivery or storage—such as larger neighboring districts in other counties, and keeping our local politicians informed. The Department of Water Resources potentially could offer relief if the Governor provides an emergency response in consideration of the extreme drought status that clings uniquely to the Central Coast.

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 montecitowater.com.