What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies? title=
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

The past winter was especially dry throughout the state, including in Santa Barbara, which received only 48 percent of normal rainfall. Despite the dry winter and the recent drought declaration from Governor Newsom, the City’s water supply outlook is positive as a result of its diverse water supplies. Santa Barbara’s water sources include: Lake Cachuma, Gibraltar Reservoir, ocean desalination, groundwater, imported water through the State Water Project, and recycled water.

A consistent supply of desalinated water since 2017 helped the City meet demands during the most recent drought, and enabled the City to build up a surplus of water stored in Lake Cachuma. Additionally, rainfall in 2017, 2019, and 2020 filled Gibraltar Reservoir, and water from the reservoir was used to supply the City, allowing for additional storage in Lake Cachuma. Currently, the City has enough water stored in Lake Cachuma to supply the community for the next two and a half years with Lake Cachuma supplies alone. The City can continue to let its groundwater basins rest and recover.

Water conservation throughout Santa Barbara continues to be strong. The community’s water use currently averages 25 percent less than pre-drought (2013) water use. Many customers made permanent changes to conserve water during the last drought, such as replacing lawns and sprinklers with water wise landscaping, or making plumbing upgrades. As a result, water demands are not expected to fully “rebound” to pre-drought conditions. Santa Barbara’s continued embodiment of water conservation as a way of life is important as dry conditions are experienced statewide.

The City’s 2020 Enhanced Urban Water Management Plan (EUWMP) was adopted by Council on June 29, 2021, and is an important planning document that sets the vision for the City’s water supply and management for the next 30 years. It includes updated water demand projections that define a “new normal” based on post drought water demands, as well as updated population and economic drivers for City water use. The EUWMP is the product of rigorous analyses that considered the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the City’s water management strategy, and included stakeholder input throughout the development process.

The EUWMP anticipates dry conditions like those we are currently experiencing and includes an Adaptive Management Plan for managing the City’s water supplies under drought conditions. Currently, City staff are “working the plan” to manage the City’s water resources and expect to update the Water Commission and City Council on potential next steps in drought response during the spring of 2022, should we experience another dry winter. For now, the community is encouraged to continue to use our water resources efficiently.

For more information on the City’s water supplies and the Enhanced Urban Water Management Plan, visit www.SantaBarbaraCA.gov/WaterVision

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Byzantium Aug 28, 2021 05:56 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

2012-2016 was the last long drought period in California. So no, we are not already in a 12 year drought. But we could be at the start of another one. Parcel out this precious resource carefully. Building moratorium, including ADU's would be a good start. No more lot splitting for high density is an even better idea.

RHS Aug 27, 2021 11:27 AM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

This sort of platitude press release is embarrassing to the community, I think. Yes, we can have water at an exorbitant price is we run the desalination plant full out. Environmental consequences be damned. Or we could finally admit that the less costly and much more pro-environmental alternative of recycled water is available. Make an alliance with the Goleta WD and other local water districts to share the cost of this technology and process (unlike giving the desal to Montecito) and in return run treated water into the aquifers that they control, allowing SB to share the product when needed. Cooperation and environmental good.

RHS Aug 28, 2021 08:22 AM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

PSTAR, I did read the release (it is not what I would deem "an article") and the mention of "recycled" water but from past experience the agency uses this term to describe water used for parks and such, not human consumption. The city people have long been resistant to use reclaimed/recovered/toilet to tap or whatever it is called to, for example, actually fill the aquifers and protect them which is done successfully around the world. The cost of using sewage outflow to produce tap water is hugely less expensive than the cost of desalination but we the city people engage in fear and refuse to convey to the public the science of such an effort.

Basicinfo805 Aug 27, 2021 04:49 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

Agree RHS, all one has to do is look at the “author” of the article here to know what’s what. It says “City of Santa Barbara”. To me, that reads ‘don’t believe everything you read’. The City will almost always spout these lighthearted feel good, “we’re doing great with conservation” vibes which are completely bs in my opinion. It’s all rosy. It’s all good. We’re doing great. No cause for alarm.

Well, don’t believe everything you read. Ever heard that phrase before? It’s a good one. The state’s in deep you know what constantly regarding water. It’s crazy that the state mandates cities like SB to keep building (“affordable housing”) and yet has really no long term plan for the one major resource that no living being can live without, humans no exception. Water. Where will it come from? We have exceeded our arid region’s (and likely entire state’s) carrying capacity for this population. We did long ago really.

I cannot believe there aren’t better water conservation standards established throughout our area and the state in general. It’s baffling. This has been talked about for decades academically for good reason. Anyone out there take an Environmental Studies class (maybe like from Prof. Nash?) at UCSB back in the day?

Water doesn’t just come from thin air.

Basicinfo805 Aug 27, 2021 04:58 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

As an aside, there’s a pathetic hose like flow of State Water flowing into Cachuma currently. I wanted to copy/paste a photo I took yesterday of it from the lake. It’s truly unimpressive (in volume) but to me WAS impressive when I thought wow - do people and politicians who are thinking things are always good because we live in Santa Barbara realize State Water is currently a drop in the bucket? It’s a glorified fire hose. Wish I could post a visual as a counter to the above article. It ain’t pretty!

Bottom line is the folks have to lead in terms of conservation. The elected officials, water boards, etc. well, they’re out to lunch.

a-1630210264 Aug 28, 2021 09:11 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

People may complain about desal water, but yes, it will allow life here to continue.
I'll be gone and have no kids. Much of my estate will be left to PP to support birth control. I just hope the youngers take steps to ameliorate our human effects. I know people who have 2-3 kids. Good luck to them, and to all. Just wish I could check in 20, 50, 80 years from now to see what happened!

a-1630210617 Aug 28, 2021 09:16 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

I must add, I've thought for decades that the planet was doomed. Humans are not able to come together to stave off any global threats. The earth is going to be a bad place very soon, and get worse.
Climate refugees will hugely increase. Water to drink and to irrigate will be in short supply. It's gonna be hellacious, globally.
Keep in mind how much Americans are going to want immigrant labor to care for our elders. And to pick food. And to pay taxes. You'll be wanting immigrants. Even anti-immigrants will.
I hope America advances with death with dignity, aka human euthanasia. I certainly won't let myself become a vegetable due to dementia. Be responsible for one's self indeed!

a-1630192204 Aug 28, 2021 04:10 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

I hope we can do this, and quickly! My 600 gallons of stored rain water doesn't last long. I keep my food trees alive, but I also have a 50 year old Jacaranda in the back yard that shields and shades my house that I'm quite attached to.


"In an attempt to cut overall water usage by 40 percent, Healdsburg officials in June put a cap on each household’s water consumption and banned irrigation of yards. But officials didn’t want the restrictions to kill trees and shrubs. So the city began offering deliveries of treated wastewater to residents to water their plants, as long as they have a container to store it.
The city’s water crunch pushed officials to take fuller advantage of ponds on the outskirts of town that store millions of gallons of treated wastewater, Smith said.
Wineries have long used the water — safe for crops but not drinkable — but most city residents didn’t know it existed nor did they have equipment to pick it up from the facility, she said.
So starting in late June, the city began delivering up to 500 gallons of recycled water to homes. As of Tuesday, 961 households were enrolled in the program, more than a quarter of the city’s residential water accounts, Smith said.
For now at least, the city is absorbing the roughly $150,000 monthly cost of the deliveries so they remain free for residents, she said.
“You can imagine we’re in a tough spot in that we’re prohibiting all irrigation,” Smith told me. “There needed to be an alternative solution.”

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 29, 2021 08:13 AM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

The hotels need to be held to a higher standard than us residents. As of now, there is no limit, no restriction, no penalty for their unfettered use of water. Everyday, in every hotel room, tourists are taking 15-30min showers, long baths and wandering around lush gardens. And all that money, all those rates, go into the profits of an out of town corporation that pays its employees min wages and takes from us, our most valuable resources. This trade off for a few million in tax revenue is NOT WORTH it. We need to fire the mayor, the council and at least 33% of the city's bloated staff. We need to re-assess the actual value of gifting so much of our town's most valuable resources to corporate tourism and city government waste. Are these low wage jobs worth it? What do we get gifting so much water and so much of our city's resources to these corporate entities? Nothing actually. Its an absolute lose - lose situation. Low wage workers cost us all in tax subsidies, tourists costs us all in their use of water and public services. Tourism does not produce good jobs. In fact, they are the lowest skilled jobs for which we mostly import our work force. Its time to rethink tourism and the actual costs these entities lay on the feet of the city's actual citizens and residents. Start with water limits and high fees. Force the hotels to reduce their uses before turning to the people who actually live and pay for the city and the water.

Byzantium Aug 29, 2021 09:45 AM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

At one time when students still "worked their way through college", the hospitality* industry (*hotel-restaurant-tourism - one of the larger segments of the US economy) provided good, flexible hour jobs that worked in these working student's favor. Now with student loans and grants, the former local student labor pool that the hospitality industry previously relied on has pretty much dried up. Meanwhile the city became more dependent on tourism dollars, not noticing the former student labor pool was no longer there. A town and gown disconnect. Those who did "work their way through college" did have a leg up in their later careers, over those who escaped holding any sort of job during these same college years. The necessity of getting a job to pay their own way helped them develop work skills, along with getting a practical understanding and appreciation for what makes the work place actually work.

Voice of Reason Aug 29, 2021 10:36 AM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

It takes 1-3 gallons to grow a single almond, one our most lucrative crops grown nearly exclusively in CA. Almonds alone require more than 10% of our States water and consume 35 times as much as Sacramento’s 1/2 million residents annually. Nearly 70% of our almonds are exported overseas to the tune of nearly $5 Billion. We are effectively exporting 10% of water outside of the country for $5 Billion. Most of almonds are surprisingly used in candy production. This talk about limiting new residential development is like separating rice from fly sh!t as it is effectively inconsequential to our water use. In the meantime, enjoy that almond milk in your coffee as you complain about more apartments overburdening our water resources as it takes nearly ONE THOUSAND gallons of water to make one carton of almond milk. Are the almonds the wisest crop to grow in a desert?

Voice of Reason Aug 29, 2021 01:34 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

How do we then limit the number of people that can live in a desirable area based on water supply, while at the same time providing a range of affordable housing solutions? As long as we keep making more people, more housing units will need to be built in areas people want to live.

Basicinfo805 Aug 29, 2021 02:40 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

VOR, answer is - you don’t. You don’t (can’t) provide a “range of affordable housing solutions” for everyone to live here in SB, or many other prime areas of California. It’s the truth. You provide efficient mass transit to and from outside areas between where people work and live, for those that cannot or do not choose to spend the money to live on the prime areas. And I’m not talking about endless freeway widening projects to make it look like LA here. What’s wrong with that?

ChillinGrillin Aug 31, 2021 02:37 PM
What Does the Governor's Drought Declaration Mean for the City's Water Supplies?

The discussion needs to shift away from droughts and focus on desertification. We're not dealing with a temporary drought period of a year or two, the arid climate will continue for the foreseeable future even under the most optimistic estimates of climate change. The crux of the problem is agriculture. About 80% of potable water goes to crops and livestock, and most of it is exported out of the state.

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