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Santa Barbara City Council votes to pour $2 million into water reserves fund

Diversification and reserve fund set to help Santa Barbara through ongoing drought

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Santa Barbara City Council members heard about additional water conservation opportunities on Tuesday – one day after Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Level 2 water shortage contingency plans.

The governor's plan calls for more local action.

Santa Barbara's Water Resources Manager Joshua Haggmark told the council that residents already do a good job conserving water.

Residents have conserved 25% of their water use when compared to 2013.

He said Lake Cachuma and the Gibralter Reservoir have received little to no rainfall for three years.

Since Santa Barbara has a desalination plant that meets at least 10% of the city's water demands, Haggmark said that he does not think the state gives the city enough credit.

Haggmark said the city rehabilitated its water treatment recycle plant and could connect other customers by tapping into more capacity.

"It is consistently operating, we do need to replace the membranes on it, but that is something we are planning for. But it is providing a huge benefit."

Ground water supplies are also an important resource.

"We have been a place to let our ground water recover. We believe we have somewhere around 13,000 acre-feet of water available in the ground water basin that we will start tapping into this summer," said Haggmark.

A projection on the wall of the city hall said a one-size-fits-all approach to statewide conservation mandates could pose unnecessary impacts on city water customers.

The city agreed unanimously to increase its water operating fund reserves by $2,000,000.

Haggmark said that because of planning and the tools in place, the city does not anticipate any water shortages through 2024. The city is, however, looking to make supplemental water purchases in the amount of 2000 acre-feet to store in a San Luis Reservoir where it won't evaporate

Haggmark estimates it will cost more than $1400 an acre-foot.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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