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Hot Springs Canyon
updated: Sep 26, 2012, 12:26 PM

Source: Land Trust for Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara, CA - The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County has a long record of completing successful projects to preserve and restore wetlands, creeks and other wildlife habitat, working in partnership with government agencies, non-profit groups and private landowners. The Land Trust is releasing this statement to clarify the status of the mineral spring water that exists in Hot Springs Canyon on a 462- acre property purchased by the Land Trust in March 2012.

The hot mineral water that comes from springs in the canyon has been collected and used both on and off the property by previous owners and other parties since the mid-1800s. Since 1990, the Montecito Creek Water Company, a private company operating under a legal agreement made with previous landowners, has captured the spring water in pipes and sold it to approximately 38 residences for landscape irrigation. The Land Trust acquired the property subject to the Water Company's rights and obligations under that 1990 agreement.

Since Hot Springs Canyon was purchased by the Land Trust in 2012, there have been no changes to the existing water system operated by the Montecito Creek Water Company, which is entitled to use the water it captures from the springs. It is the Land Trust's understanding that the Water Company uses all of the captured water during the summer when demand is high, but that for most of the year a portion of the captured water is released back into the creek. Under the 1990 agreement, the property owner is entitled to claim 50% of the spring water for the owner's use, after giving 180-day legal notice to the Water Company, terminating its right to use that 50%.

By the end of 2012, the Land Trust expects to convey most of the property, including the location of the mineral springs, to the United States Forest Service for long-term stewardship as part of Los Padres National Forest. The Forest Service will then be in a position to decide how to manage the 50% of the spring water that it will own. Releasing mineral spring water could provide environmental benefits to the creek environment. However, this is not a decision that can be made lightly. It will require a careful assessment of the legal, environmental, and public health and safety implications. The Land Trust believes that the Forest Service, as the intended long-term manager of this land, is the appropriate agency to decide how the 50% of the spring water that may become available upon 180 days' notice may be put to beneficial public use. ####


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