Montecito Water District Poised to be Drought-Proof by Summer

Juncal Dam spilling, April 6, 2020. Jameson Lake reached 100% capacity with the rainfall received in early April. A bathymetric study completed last year revealed that the lake holds about 30% less than it did when first built. While Jameson Lake is full, Montecito Water District is resting its wells to support groundwater recharge, and moving forward with plans to diversify its water portfolio and ensure the community’s future water needs will be met. (Photo credit: Alan Prichard, Dam Caretaker)

Source: Montecito Water District

Montecito Water District’s Board of Directors will hold its regular month meeting tomorrow as scheduled. The agenda includes updates on the status of a Water Supply Agreement with the City of Santa Barbara and the Rate Study. “These projects remain on schedule to be completed and ready for Board consideration in June,” said General Manager Nick Turner. Proposed rates will be mailed to customers for review in mid-May, and include “desalination”, which refers to the cost of the pending 50-year Water Supply Agreement with the City of Santa Barbara.

The Board will also review a preliminary presentation on Future Demand and Water Supply Options prepared by Steve Bachman. Dr. Bachman is on contract with the District to prepare an update to the water supply report he completed in 2007. While many of the recommendations from the past plan have been implemented, the District’s current water supplies remain unreliable. This became evident during the recent historic drought that spanned from 2012 to 2018 and left the District nearly solely dependent upon the availability of supplemental water and the operation of the State Water Project facilities.

“Our constituents fully expect us to continue working on these critical initiatives. We were elected to do a job, and we must fulfill our obligations,” stated Director Cori Hayman at a meeting earlier this month. “If anything, current conditions show us that we must continue to move swiftly and put resilient plans in place for the District’s future water needs. This community knows that things can change overnight, and we must be prepared.”

MWD is conducting business as usual to the extent possible during the COVID-19 pandemic response. Customer service staff is available by phone and email during business hours (8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday), operations are regular, and repairs are being made as needed. However, all major capital improvements are temporarily on hold. For example, “Smart Meter” installation began in January, 2020 and approximately half of the meters in the District were upgraded before the project was halted in mid-March due to the coronavirus. Customers will be notified as soon as these projects resume.

All Board Meetings are open to the public and accessible by teleconference. More information can be found in the Agendas and Packets available on the District’s web site: Meeting times are posted to the online District Calendar and participation is encouraged. For assistance please contact call 805.969.2271 or email


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  1. Good luck to MWD customers. Those who freaked out over the drought surcharge are really going to lose it with the rate increase for this unnecessary venture. In a community where no growth is practically guaranteed, life has been sustainable with currents measures for decades, through a few “ historic droughts”. For the cost of this pretty bad tasting desal water, every home could add a small reservoir.

  2. We are “always” going to have drought cycles and our population/water use keeps increasing. The desal plant is a good investment in our future and our children’s future. No matter what neighborhood you live in. ….. We ALL need water.

  3. The City is hurting for it’s supply with desalination almost a necessity after Gibraltar Res. filled up with sediment from recent fires and now has a very small capacity. Time to regain capacity before we do have another bad drought.

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