Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed title=
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed
10 Comments
Reads 1772

Desal Plant in Santa Barbara (file photo)

By Melinda Burns

A long-awaited Montecito Water District rate study, planned for release this May, will not be finished until later this year, officials said this week.

The study can’t proceed until the district finishes negotiating the terms of an agreement for buying into Santa Barbara’s desalination plant, said Nick Turner, the district general manager. Still to be determined, he said, are the quantity and cost of a potential city supply for Montecito: it could be enough water to meet as much as 35 percent of Montecito’s demand, with a price tag of up to $4 million, every year for the next 50 years.

Negotiations with the city began in October, 2016.

“It’s time to wrap it all up, hopefully before the end of August,” Turner said.

The rate study also will reflect the $200,000 cost of looking into whether Montecito’s groundwater basins are large enough to hold a supply of recycled water; and the $200,000 cost of determining whether they are in overdraft, said Adam Kanold, district engineering manager. Not included, he said, is the cost of building a plant to recycle Montecito’s wastewater, either for irrigation or injection into the ground. Those projects have been estimated to cost between $5 million and $32 million.

The district’s annual budget is $20 million.

Once the rate study is complete, officials said, the board will hold public hearings and vote on whether to buy a long-term share of Santa Barbara’s water supply.

If the project gets a green light, the city may have to expand its $72 million waterfront desalination plant, said Joshua Haggmark, city water resources manager. In addition, he said, the city would have to build a $12 million “conveyance” pipeline to help carry desalinated water to a buried tank at the Cater Treatment Plant off San Roque Road. From there, the water would be mixed with other city supplies and shipped to Montecito through the South Coast Conduit, a pipeline that goes to Carpinteria. 

Because Montecito has not yet voted on the project, the city this week withdrew its application for a $1 million state grant to help pay for the conveyance pipeline, Haggmark said. The deadline is in August, he said, but the city can apply again next year.

Whether Montecito purchases city water or not, Haggmark said, “we’re good with it, either way … It’s not going to be a windfall for the city. It’s a fair deal.”


Melinda Burns is a freelance journalist in Santa Barbara.

Login to add Comments

10 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
a-1576455326 Jul 20, 2019 08:44 AM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

100% Cost Recovery and Mandated Conservation of Water is Needed. No water for golf courses unless they use treated water from the sewer system. De Sal water should not be used to water golf courses or lush estates. Climate change is real. Everyone needs to conserve and there needs to be a mandate on the use of the water. We can't and shouldn't subsidize those who treat water as if there is an endless supply. There isn't.

a-1576455326 Jul 19, 2019 02:33 PM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

If Montecito gets to vote on the negotiated deal, why don’t all SB Water District Customers get to vote, since we’re the ones subsidizing this win-fall, I mean waterfall to benefit Montecito and it’s many underground well users.

RHS Jul 19, 2019 09:03 AM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

Isn't anybody watching this giveaway of the City of Santa Barbara resources to the much more affluent Montecito District?! The desalination plant cost at least $80M (not $72M and well more than double the original estimate) and now proposes to spend another $12M of SB money to send part of the production to Montecito. Montecito will not pay for any of this infrastructure and will thus get desalinated water at a hugely subsidized price. In fact the cost of desalinated water is grossly more expensive than any alternative including especially State Water Project stuff which is very available. Instead of requiring Montecito to pay a true cost of production share of the water they will get the City of SB is going to fund everything and let Montecito take what it wants, when it wants and pay what it wants. This also allows Montecito to protect the paper over the excessive well program damage they have allowed to deplete their aquifer. The only reason for this corrupted deal is to allow Haggmark and cronies to expand the white elephant empire they are building on ratepayers backs. To say nothing of the environmental damage desalination involves.

Bene Jul 19, 2019 04:20 PM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

But sharing desal with Montecito also benefits Santa Barbara. The city cheaped out on paying to have the desal pumped to cater to be mixed with other city water. So as it stands the desal doesn't go to most of Santa Barbara but just gets flooded 100 percent into some areas like the lower mesa and downtown. This is not good for the aging pipes and infrastructure as desal water is more aggressive. The situation as-is could cause some serious problems down the road according to some water pundits (not openly verbal about this however, as it is highly political). Also, there is no precedent in the US, that I am aware of, for delivering 100 percent desal . Other plants like the one in Carlsbad mix the desal with other water. It is best for people and pipes to mix the desal. Maybe if Montecito gets on board it will help Santa Barbara do this right, this time. Of course, as you point out, desal should not be the answer to begin with. Wonder how long it is before there is a major environmental repercussion.

a-1576455326 Jul 19, 2019 11:06 AM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

RHS gets it. SBWater District Customers : We’re screwed again! The City is gifting to wealthy Montecito Water District Customers SBWD customer paid DeSal water, SBWD customer twice paid DeSal Plant planning and development costs of way over $83M, and SBWD customer paid fees for obtaining and holding required DeSal Plant permits for decades. Why? Because City POWER BROKERS can’t do basic math and negotiate? Or because the Council and Sups want to keep Montecito’s political donors happy? Montecito residents don’t vote City but do finance most SoCounty candidates campaigns: Council, Sups, SBCC, SBUnified School Board, etc. Decision makers, politicos and City Water / Public Work Staff have career and political ambitions. It’s a cozy deal. MWD Customers get 25HCF while SBWD Customers get 16HCF for the same monthly charge. Such fools that we are! Next our rationed tier-priced water will be going to water Birman and Valley Golf Courses. Speak up at SBWD Commission Meetings to deaf ears. DNC Appointees rubber stamp all staff recommendations. See for yourself. Totalitarian give-away by and for the mutual benefit of oligarchs by SBWD Ratepayers. Call your Council Rep to hear his/her excuse to cover for their DNC Keeper. 5th District LaCumbre /San Rogue Rep Eric Friedman is the Council’s Water Liason replacing Bendy White. Vote in new leadership that is NOT DNC ENDORSED this November. Demand lower water bills. Remember the City gave away rather than sell the parts from the first DeSal Plant we paid for. Such fools!

yacht rocked Jul 19, 2019 06:13 AM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

It's ironic that all ratepayers will pay for injecting recycled water into groundwater basins, and then some of them will use their water wells to extract that same recycled water for their own use while reducing use and paying less for piped water from the Water District. Everyone pays to fill up the punchbowl and then neighbors with big straws drink for free.

PitMix Jul 18, 2019 03:21 PM
Montecito Water Rate Study Gets Delayed

The article doesn't put blame on a party for the delay in finalizing the agreement. What are you basing your comment on? As I remember, an Indy article made it seem like Montecito wasn't sure it wanted to proceed with the desal because they wanted to recycle their own wastewater. Remember when the candidates for the board were saying how all of their treated water dumped into the ocean was a waste?

Please Login or Register to comment on this.