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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 2:41 am | Fair 42º


Goleta Water District Votes to Move Ahead with Bond Agreement

The bond would address aging infrastructure, including the Cachuma Project, critical to the South Coast's water supply

Goleta Water District directors unanimously agreed Tuesday to move forward on a bond agreement to aid aging infrastructure that provides the South Coast with water.

The system under discussion at the board’s meeting was the Cachuma Project which, according to staff reports, provides 80 percent of the potable water delivered by the GWD, the city of Santa Barbara, Montecito and the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

The pipeline is the only one of its kind, and should it be damaged in an earthquake or terrorist attack, most of the South Coast’s water supply would be halted.

“No redundant supply or pipeline exists to convey Cachuma Project water or State Project water to the Goleta Reach if the South Coast Conduit is out of service, due to scheduled or unexpected repairs,” the report said. The age and the material of the pipeline also compounds the problem, making it difficult to repair when problems arise.

The district is a member of the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board, or COMB, which operates a conduit that brings water to the South Coast from the north portal of Lake Cachuma to the Carpinteria Reservoir.

COMB maintains that it has done its best for nearly 50 years to keep the pipe in working order with annual repairs. Improvements are needed, however, which would rely on the issuance of revenue bonds.

COMB bond counsel Doug Brown talked with board directors about the terms and conditions of the bond. Each of the agencies that receives water from the pipeline is being asked to approve the agreement, and COMB is scheduled at the end of September to approve the bond issue.

In October, if all goes according to plan, a preliminary official statement will be mailed out to potential investors. A week may go by as investment bankers market the investment to customers, Brown said.

The bond would represent a 30-year commitment, not to exceed $20 million, and the district has limited liability because of a joint participation agreement. If another district defaulted on their payments, the remaining districts would not be required to shoulder their burden.

The pipeline being added, which amounts to an estimated at $9.1 million in construction costs, is just one of the items listed on the project list to be funded by the bond proceeds. It includes work on the pipeline at Mission Creek and two other creek crossings, valve installations, right-of-way purchases and corrosion repairs for a total of $18.1 million.

Chuck Evans, who served on the GWD board and as president of COMB for six years, spoke during public comment and said the Cachuma Project has been servicing the South Coast since it was built in the mid-1950s.

“There are a number of projects that need to be done to that pipe to make it deliver water to us for the next 50 years,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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