To deal with Santa Barbara County’s dwindling supplies, the Central Coast Water Authority has hired a consultant to find water for sale.
The CCWA owns and operates the pipelines that deliver State Water Project water to 13 agencies in Santa Barbara County and southern San Luis Obispo County.
It’s the only organization that has the pipelines to bring water into the county, CCWA Executive Director Ray Stokes said.
Some local water agencies are looking for outside sources on their own, but the CCWA is starting a water purchase program that districts can join.
Sierra Water Group will be paid on an hourly basis as a water broker, and already has a standing contract with the City of Santa Maria.
Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Solvang have expressed interest in the program.
The CCWA wants to buy 4,000 to 5,000 acre-feet of water this year, but a recent threat to the system’s banked carryover water could make that number go way up.
Many water districts have stored or “banked” unused water in San Luis Reservoir, and CCWA regularly pumps it into Lake Cachuma so agencies can use it.
On Monday, the state Department of Water Resources warned Stokes on that it might cut deliveries by half. That would give districts less water in the bank and a bigger problem with the ongoing drought.
“That just means that we need to try and find additional water sources as soon as possible to help water agencies meet demand,” Stokes said.