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Regional drought preparation in the pipeline

Some state water officials are on a drought listening tour.

On Monday, they listened to local water agency representatives and elected leaders during an afternoon meeting at Santa Barbara County’s office of emergency services.

Instead of competing for water their goal is to work together as a region to get state and federal funding for water projects.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said people in the county need to be “rowing in the same direction.”

She said there is a Senate bill with $100 million earmarked for desalination.

“What we need to do is demonstrate that we are again working collaboratively, that this is a regional approach that we are going to cooperate with each other, that the funding will be used to maximize the interactions and availability of water throughout the region, not just for one water district, that we are trying to do everything we can to create greater efficiency in the uses of water and availability so that we are sharing the opportunities that will be created by freeing up water in one area so their might be more water available in another,” said Jackson.

Newly elected supervisor Joan Hartmann said north county supply and use is different from south county.

” If we collaborate and work together we can secure the resources the entire county needs,” said Hartmann.

Wiliam Croyle, the deputy director of California’s Department of Water Resources said we are getting rain but not enough runoff.

“It just sinks in, so for those who rely on surface water, even though it rains a lot or seems to rain a lot, it doesn’t run off, it sinks into the ground,” said Croyle.

He said California is down 30 inches of rain since 2013, and 5 inches since last year.

Mark Ghilarducci from the Governor’s office of emergency services said conservation is “a way of life, it’s not short term, it’s the new norm in California.”

Similar meetings will take place regularly in the new year.

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