Source: Santa Barbara County Public Works Department

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently published two reports to help local agencies address water conservation in the San Antonio Creek Valley Groundwater Basin. The basin – located 15 miles south of Santa Maria – provides water to Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB), Los Alamos and local agriculture. The basin also supports the unique marshland of Barka Slough, which is the largest freshwater estuary in Santa Barbara County. The slough is located 3 miles east of VSFB and is an essential habitat for several endangered species. The report was a collaboration between the USGS, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, and VSFB. The study’s goals were to understand better the basin’s geology, the amount of available groundwater it has in storage and develop tools to manage the groundwater.

The County hopes a detailed understanding of the basin can lead to improved water conservation and quality in the area. Santa Barbara County Water Agency manager Matt Young said, “This study provides valuable information and tools that will be used for sustainable management of the basin for many years.”

The study produced a basin model that can be used to simulate future water-management scenarios under different climatic and hydrologic conditions. The County will use the study and continued groundwater and surface water monitoring to inform and evaluate water management decisions. To learn more about groundwater in Santa Barbara County, visit To read the study, visit


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