Drought Continues to Persist in Santa Barbara
Source: City of Santa Barbara
The City of Santa Barbara is in its seventh year of a persistent drought. Fortunately, with careful water planning and prudent direction from City Council, the City has a diverse water portfolio that will meet water customers' demands through 2020.
Our drinking water supplies include surface water from Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar Reservoir; state water that is conveyed through Lake Cachuma; groundwater; and the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant, which began distributing drinking water in May 2017.
While Santa Barbara received some rain over the past winter and spring, it only amounted to 50% of normal annual rainfall, and Lake Cachuma remains at 40% of its
capacity. Additionally, Gibraltar Reservoir has been impacted by ash and debris from the Thomas Fire, and after several years of prolonged groundwater pumping, there are limited groundwater reserves.
With the current drought, our water customers have done an excellent job of cutting back on their water use, at times exceeding our conservation goal of 30%, which has helped to preserve our available water supplies. Recent annual city-wide water demands have consistently been below 10,000 acre-feet per year. This matches the City’s water usage in 1958, when the population was only half of what it is today.
The City’s desalination plant is permitted to produce up to 10,000
acre-feet per year (AFY), but is currently built to a capacity of 3,125 AFY, which is approximately 30% of the community’s current annual water demands. If water supply conditions worsen, the City is positioned to consider expanding the plant to ensure there are adequate water supplies to continue to meet the community’s water demands.
Water customers are being asked to continue their water conservation efforts. The City's Water Conservation Program offers free Water Checkups for efficiency recommendations as well as rebates, garden classes, instructional videos, and more. For more information, visit www.SantaBarbaraCA.gov/WaterWise or call (805) 564-5460.
Read the entire Annual Water Quality Report here.