Cachuma Lake has not spilled since 2011, and Santa Barbara is still facing significant drought conditions, the city’s top water manager told the City Council on Tuesday.
Joshua Haggmark, the city’s water resources manager, said the city has adequate water supplies through 2020, largely because of water conservation.
“It’s really extraordinary how much water conservation is going on right now,” Haggmark said.
The city’s Gibraltar Reservoir is at 41 percent of capacity, with about 2,026 acre-feet of water.
Lake Cachuma is about 39 percent of capacity, with about 75,384 acre-feet of water. Santa Barbara’s share of that water, however, is only about 6,000 acre-feet.
Santa Barbara’s groundwater supply is about 30 percent of capacity.
Water Supply Manager Kelley Dyer said groundwater levels have not been this low in Santa Barbara since 1992, and that it would take between five and 10 years to restore the supply to capacity.
The city is also using desalinated water, about “2,200” gallons a minute.
In all, Santa Barbara gets its water from a variety of sources, including Cachuma, Gibraltar, State Water, supplemental water purchases, groundwater, desalination, recycled water and water conservation.
Santa Barbara residents, before the rain in February 2017, were conserving about 40 percent.
Water conservation will be extremely important going forward, Haggmark said because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting below average rainfall for 2018.
“We really are still in a very serious drought condition,” Haggmark said.
In addition. city officials said that the water quality in Lake Cachuma was so poor at the height of the drought that 13 steelhead trout, an endangered species, were found dead.
“The water quality did affect the fish at Lake Cachuma,” Dyer said.
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.