Replacing Aging Water Infrastructure in Santa Barbara

Repairing a broken water main (courtesy photo)

The City of Santa Barbara’s water system represents one of the largest investments in public infrastructure in the City, playing a critical role in providing the foundation for our community to thrive.

Drinking water travels through hundreds of miles of pipelines, pump stations, and treatment facilities before it arrives in our taps. This process requires dedicated people and resources working around the clock, without interruption, to ensure the system performs optimally.

With a dedicated staff of 55 full-time employees, the City provides approximately 2.5 billion gallons of potable water to its customers annually through over 300 miles of water main pipelines. The City’s water system has entered a prolonged period where capital improvement will be an increasing priority as a significant portion of our infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life.

To address this priority, we have completed a comprehensive Asset Management Program and developed a 30-year Water Distribution Infrastructure Plan. Continued investment in the water system is essential to providing safe and reliable drinking water to our customers.

Water main pipelines are one of the City’s largest assets and staying on pace to replace old pipelines, many of which have exceeded their useful lifetime, is a priority. City Council set a goal to replace 2% of the pipelines every year, based on a risk-based approach that weighs the likelihood of failure and the consequence of failure. To this end, the City is reinvesting over $17 million annually into the water system.

Water Resources takes tremendous pride in finding innovative solutions to stay ahead of key challenges. We believe in a transparent work culture that engages our decision makers and community, providing them with valuable information. For more information on our current and future water system projects, watch the video recording of the Water System Annual Report from the December 21, 2023 Water Commission Meeting.

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