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Does the drought disaster need a name?

If the drought had a name, would we see a flow in federal funding to help with costs?

Some think, it just might.

NewsChannel 3 is reaching out to city officials and Josh Haggmark, Water Resources Manager for the City of Santa Barbara, for weekly updates on the drought situation.

“We have all these disasters that occur. Talk about fires — all fires get names, all hurricanes, major storms get names, and droughts don’t get names,” Haggmark said. “Maybe a drought needs a name so we can actually find some funding and get some attention to the cause.”

It appears a recent article in the Washington Post about the historic low level at Cachuma Lake is getting national attention.

“I think the gravity of the just seeing how bad Cachuma is has kind of galvanized the situation and kind of spurred them to contact us,” Haggmark said.

One voice on the other end of Haggmark’s phone following the article’s publication was Senator Diane Feinstein, who personally called Santa Barbara water officials.

“I told her our number one need is to try and get more grant funding to try and offset some of these costs associated with the drought as things continue to mount,” Haggmark told NewsChannel 3. “I think our ratepayers can only take so much.”

Haggmark estimates, to date, drought-related costs to the City of Santa Barbara are in the $70 million dollar range. He links those costs to well work, water purchased from the state and reactivating the desal plant.

He explained the city has already received “several million” in grant funding and is hoping to get another $5 million dollars to offset desal costs and pay for the next set of expenses related to securing the pipeline in Cachuma Lake to “our lifeline to getting water to the south coast.”

Santa Barbara’s desalination plant is slated to go online in mid-February.

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