Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Santa Barbara Out of the Drought? title=
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?
37 Comments
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By an edhat reader

According to the official United States Drought Monitor site for the first time in 7 years we are back to normal.

Cachuma is still only at 60% but our area is no longer classified as being in drought or even abnormally dry. We are classified as normal, but water conservation is still needed.

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Flicka Feb 25, 2019 01:50 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

The amount of water in Cachuma , Gibralter, and Juncal is not as much as it would have been when these dams were built. They have become silt basins over the many years of fires and floods and I guess dredging is not possible.

biguglystick Feb 22, 2019 10:36 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

I think everyone here is in full agreement that more rampant development is UNWANTED. Goleta is out of control! The heinous boxy condos they keep throwing up everywhere you look out there is bringing hordes of people and traffic to our coast. I don't even go to Goleta anymore unless I have to, what a shame. Let's STOP welcoming it. I'm sick of it. And just because they published this report, doesn't mean we can start wasting any precious water. As a native Californian, I know we are not out of the woods and drought is cyclical here. The rains were wonderful, and it sure is nice to see water levels rise in Cachuma and Casitas, but it's not a license for us to waste water. RHS is correct, we need to also stop encouraging people to have more kids.

PitMix Feb 22, 2019 03:37 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

No one is encouraging anyone to have more kids. People do that all on their own. I don't have kids, but my mom and dad had 6 of them, and they have 9 grandchildren. Unfortunately the only way we are going to reduce the population in any meaningful way is through an epidemic or war. And when those occur, every mammal on the planet will be in jeopardy.

Emmenanthe Feb 22, 2019 09:31 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Rather than seeing the simplistic "level of Cachuma Reservoir", I would like to see a statistic on the volume of available water in Cachuma. With all the silt deposition over the years, the water level is becoming more and more meaningless. Subtract the other water uses, such as the obligated release amounts needed to keep the Santa Ynez River alive.

a-1553633033 Feb 22, 2019 10:07 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

See RHS comment below. Cachuma is not a stable facility. It will only be full if an unexpected deluge occurs. Under the present plan it is just a holding facility that is filled and drained with local runoff and a lot of State Water.

RHS Feb 22, 2019 08:53 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

There is so much water illiteracy out there. We are constantly bamboozled by those who have agendas such as creating more big ag. First, in SB groundwater hasn't been a significant contributor to our needs since a century ago. It is about 6% of our supply. Second, Cachuma is basically a holding facility which contains water brought in by the State Water Project and then pumped into SB. This is about 30% or our water supply but can be adjusted as needed and available. Most of our local source water comes from Gibraltar which is 52% or use. Recycled water and some desalinated water is a small additional resource. BUT please note that the urban use of water statewide is less than 10% of CA consumption. Agriculture is over 80%. If agriculture simply saved about 10% it would erase any urban deficit easily but agriculture is the most wasteful consumer and by fire the lion's share consumer of aquifer water which it is depleted without conscience. FINALLY pay attention to the demands for continued population growth. CA is already full. Let's stop building housing and inviting more people and encouraging more children.

PitMix Feb 22, 2019 03:31 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

RHS, the data on the City website shows a pie chart of water sources during a non-drought year of: Cachuma 55%. State Water 2%. Gibraltar 27%. Groundwater 11%. Recycled Water for irrigation 5%. I can't find similar numbers on their site for a drought year. So either you are talking about different things, or you have data that shows the City is lying. Which is it? santabarbaraca.gov gov depts pw resources system sources default.asp (replace the spaces with /).

RHS Feb 22, 2019 11:41 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

SBHOPE it would be nice if you could get straight answers to your honest questions from the city public works department but they tend to obfuscate to protect their agenda which as a lot to do with more construction and edifices. My understanding is their claim is that desalinated water COULD provide up to 30% if needed but it is incredibly expensive. Remember that the first desal plant wasn't ever used! This white elephant will be probably used most to supply Montecito which has a much less reliable and more limited local supply and which has depleted its basins dramatically with private wells. So SB is paying big utility bills to subsidize Oprah and other Montecito big consumers!

SBHope Feb 22, 2019 10:33 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Thanks for the background RHS. It's very helpful. I didn't realize that we used the Gibraltar reservoir for our water. Am I correct that you're saying it provides Santa Barbara City with 52% of our water. Given that it only appears to hold a little over 4,000 ac-ft I wouldn't have guessed that we rely on it so heavily. Do we use it first when it is full and then pump from Cachuma once Gibraltar runs too low? In turn when Cachuma runs low is that when we then turn to desalination and more aggressive pumping of groundwater? I thought at one point I heard that desalination was now providing up to 30% of our city water. Is that not correct?

SBHope Feb 22, 2019 07:20 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

As a follow up, Tom Fayram, Deputy Public Works Director said in an interview yesterday that ground water levels are still low, and Lake Cachuma, which currently stands at 60 percent capacity, does not supply as much water as it used to. Can anyone clarify what he meant by that last comment? Does Cachuma not provide as much water because it has been so low of late or has the city surrendered / lost the right to use some of Cachuma's water for other reasons?

PitMix Feb 22, 2019 03:24 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Maybe he means that the long-term yield of Cachuma, how much they can expect to get out of it on an annual basis, is less that they used to think due to climate change. A lot of these facilities were built with very optimistic estimates of available water because that made the costs seem more reasonable. Similar to the Colorado River which is over-allocated to the respective states by a bunch.

SBHope Feb 21, 2019 09:59 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

The original link and source for this story is fairly authoritative. That said I agree that conservation is and will always be a good thing. To help get an accurate assessment of our local situation we obviously have the US Drought Monitor site mentioned above which uses a wide range of resources as I noted in an earlier post. We also have the wonderful resource found at http://rain.cosbpw.net which lets us know how much rainfall we've had as well as the status of the key reservoirs (e.g., Cachuma currently at 60% - the highest level in, I believe, at least 5 years). There have been a number of posts stating that the local aquifers / water tables are still very low. I have no doubt that they will take some time to recover. For those who have pointed this out or anyone else, do you have a site / source you can reference similar to the other two mentioned in this post where one can keep an eye on current data related to this key measure. I greatly appreciate having as many fact based resources as possible to draw on. Thanks in advance.

mtndriver Feb 21, 2019 06:02 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Agree that it's not about current rainfall--we have an enormous shortfall to make up, groundwater still way down. No reason to believe next year will be another "normal" one, either. Conservation is our future.

Flicka Feb 21, 2019 05:14 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

I have a friend living in Goleta who said, a couple years ago, she was only supposed to water her yard after 8pm and only on certain days. She went to the Water Dept, said she is a senior and afraid to water after dark as she might trip and fall. They said she had to get a doctor's recommendation she be allowed to water earlier. Meanwhile, huge condo developments were being built in Goleta and water didn't seem to be any problem for them. Double standards?

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 03:30 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

They let that Marc go up with a pool - the monstrosity in Goleta across from Costco et al, also a pool - new Hilton Garden with a pool - shall I go on? Who here is really not conserving other than the city bosses who approve new development over and over without restrictions on water use (and I don't care if they were approved before they can put emergency moratoriums or measures to withdraw approvals for some things). Don't tell citizens like me to conserve, tell the city and developers! They are the ones depleting the supply! More comes in but more goes out as well, much more than is coming in!

a-1553633033 Feb 23, 2019 08:51 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

PITMIX that is not entirely true, volume does have a damping effect. A still pool will evaporate less water than a shallow pond of the same size. However if the pool is in use, the sloshing of the water increases surface area = more evap

PitMix Feb 22, 2019 03:20 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Evaporation is based on surface area, not total volume. So your fish pond might lose the same amount of water as a pool if the surface is about the same size. And if the temperature of your fish pond heats up during the hot spells we have, it will lose even more water than a colder pool with the same surface area. I'm not arguing for pools, just pointing out a few facts.

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 09:18 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Always a good idea to remove "every bit of glass" from your yard, particularly if it is broken glass. And pool water evaporation is no joke. I have a 55-gallon fish pond which, on sunny days, loses up to a gallon to two gallons of water every couple days. How many gallons of water in a backyard swimming pool? 25,000 gallons?

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 09:18 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Always a good idea to remove "every bit of glass" from your yard, particularly if it is broken glass. And pool water evaporation is no joke. I have a 55-gallon fish pond which, on sunny days, loses up to a gallon to two gallons of water every couple days. How many gallons of water in a backyard swimming pool? 25,000 gallons?

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 09:18 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Always a good idea to remove "every bit of glass" from your yard, particularly if it is broken glass. And pool water evaporation is no joke. I have a 55-gallon fish pond which, on sunny days, loses up to a gallon to two gallons of water every couple days. How many gallons of water in a backyard swimming pool? 25,000 gallons?

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 09:18 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Always a good idea to remove "every bit of glass" from your yard, particularly if it is broken glass. And pool water evaporation is no joke. I have a 55-gallon fish pond which, on sunny days, loses up to a gallon to two gallons of water every couple days. How many gallons of water in a backyard swimming pool? 25,000 gallons?

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 09:18 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Always a good idea to remove "every bit of glass" from your yard, particularly if it is broken glass. And pool water evaporation is no joke. I have a 55-gallon fish pond which, on sunny days, loses up to a gallon to two gallons of water every couple days. How many gallons of water in a backyard swimming pool? 25,000 gallons?

SBLocalGal Feb 21, 2019 03:57 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

I'm all for curbing new development when it comes to water being scarce but the point made about swimming pools might be misguided. My home has an in-ground pool and I started monitoring my water use very carefully during the drought. I removed every bit of glass from my yard and planted succulents and drought-resistant plants wherever possible. Surprisingly enough, my monthly water use even during the hottest months (when the pool water would need the most 'topping off'), was much less than my neighbors or the city (you can see the comparison on your Goleta Water account page online.) People think pools use a lot of water but it appears that lawns use much more. Regardless of what the graph shows or what development is going on, I plan to still take steps to conserve water wherever I can. I've lived here long enough to know the next severe drought is just a few years away.

SBHope Feb 21, 2019 12:57 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

I'm not sure it is fair to say this is misleading but you are right that there are always other factors to take into account. The following is from the website mentioned in the original post and explains how they make their assessment. They do indeed take numerous factors into account but may miss some. "This is what makes the U.S. Drought Monitor unique. It is not a statistical model, although numeric inputs are many: the Palmer Drought Severity Index, the Standardized Precipitation Index, and other climatological inputs; the Keech-Byram Drought Index for fire, satellite-based assessments of vegetation health, and various indicators of soil moisture; and hydrologic data, particularly in the West, such as the Surface Water Supply Index and snowpack. To see links to these products, please visit the Current Conditions and Outlooks page. The USDM relies on experts to synthesize the best available data from these and other sources and work with local observers to interpret the information. The USDM also incorporates ground truthing and information about how drought is affecting people, via a network of more than 450 observers across the country, including state climatologists, National Weather Service staff, Extension agents, and hydrologists. Bear in mind that recognizing emerging drought, or knowing whether drought is over, entails understanding what is normal for a given location or season, and considering longer time frames. If an area has been in drought for a while, it typically takes more than one or two rains to end it, although one rain may be all that is needed to awaken dormant vegetation or spur crop growth."

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 12:45 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

This is very misleading. Surface water is simply one part of the picture, groundwater is still severely lacking across the state. In the last decade, groundwater has been depleted to levels 70 feet below normal in some areas! It will take a LONG time to fix this. Stay vigilant in conserving water. Don't fall victim to the mindset of "well (insert person/hotel/business) doesn't conserve water, so why should I?"

25_25 Feb 21, 2019 12:01 PM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Well. As soon as the Big People deem it necessary to go ahead with another release to recharge ground water for farm land; or to preserve watershed habitat for the last three remaining magical unicorn fish; they'll open it up and drain it back down to newsworthy panic levels. Probably in two weeks. Stay tuned.

SantaBarbaraObserver Feb 21, 2019 11:59 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Now if we could only get the city to issue some sort of restriction / limitation on the thousands of hotel rooms in our city. Citizens of SB need to realize that regardless of their own household use, everyday, thousands of hotel guests are neither restricted nor penalized for their use. There are no commercial restrictions or penalties on use. Our precious water is gifted to these hotel owners at a ridiculously low cost. So while we suffer, they profit. This is the legacy of our current city staff. These are people who put the hotel owners and TOT over the needs of you and your family. Remember while the tourists take 30min showers and the hotel staff waters their grounds, we residents are penalized for saving as well as for using our own water.

SantaBarbaraObserver Feb 23, 2019 09:14 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

They essentially penalized the residents by changing the baseline and the fees for each tier. So you reduce your use and then drop into a new tier but if you go back to your non-conserved use, you're penalized. And this is on top of the surcharges and fines and mandatory use restrictions. Did your bill go down when your use dropped? Ours went up and when we had the occasional bump into our previous use, the rate increase was substantial. Meanwhile, the hotels are lush and they were never required to implement any sort of use reduction. Those showers are still flowing full blast without any city restrictions. Not even a simple replacement of shower heads was required! Yet another example of the utter incompetence by our city's staff and leaders. Is there anything these nincompoops do well?

a-1553633033 Feb 22, 2019 10:34 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Observer, I notice that you point out that there are no restrictions and penalties for commercial water use and wonder what are the restrictions and penalties for residential water use? I didn't realize that we had any - except for continually escalating billing rates which hit both residential and commercial.

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 11:43 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

I agree with Yeti. Even during the drought, some of my neighbors were still watering when they weren't supposed to. A lot of people think first about what's convenient for them, not what is best for the common good. It's no different from what happens when gasoline prices fluctuate -- when they're high, people buy small, fuel efficient cars. As soon as they go down, people are driving the gas guzzlers again.

SBHope Feb 21, 2019 11:12 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Yeti. I agree with everything you say with the exception that it is "Very dangerous to publicize this information to the general public." The general public has a right to know such things. If not, what other things should we be hiding from them for their own "good." Again, I agree with your other point that we should obviously still conserve water because we live in an area where the rain varies from year to year. That should be a message which is constantly reinforced. Obviously we also want to see Cachuma back at 100% and the water tables return to the appropriate level.

Yeti Feb 21, 2019 10:50 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

Very dangerous to publicize this information to the general public. We are definitely at a severe deficit of available water. The local aquifers and Lake Cachuma really need multiple years of surplus rain to replenish and get out of the danger zone. We are a long ways from that point. Everyone really needs to continue to cut way back on water usage and not go back out and plant lawns to soak up precious resources. With all of the new building in Goleta and Santa Barbara, we are going to need a lot more water than you can imagine in the near future. Please CONSERVE!

oceandrew Feb 22, 2019 10:59 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

YETI, most folks can't tell the difference between climate and weather. Drought is a climatic condition that is not altered by a sudden turn in the weather. It'll take a return to "normal" rainfall accumulations to alter a climatic condition. So you're right... this map is a soundbite taken out of context of the larger discussion.

a-1553633033 Feb 21, 2019 11:05 AM
Santa Barbara Out of the Drought?

YETI I'll worry about cutting my use (which I do anyway just because it's not right to waste water even if there is no drought) when they put a moratorium or slow down on new development.

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