Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 7:06 pm | Fair 75º


Local News


Cachuma Lake Drops to 17.5 Percent of Capacity

City officials say Cachuma has enough water left for another year

Santa Barbara has enough drinking water to last only until October 2016, city water officials said at Tuesday's Santa Barbara City Council meeting

Cachuma Lake is down about 80 feet from its spill level, and is at only about 17.5 percent of capacity.

The lake lost 8 percent of its water over the last few months through releases into the Santa Ynez River to accommodate fish passage and other cities' with water rights.

The lake is so low that the crews have installed an emergency pump system to get the water out of the lake and to consumers.

"It's a pretty extensive network of piping and pumps to make our water system continue to function at such low levels," said Joshua Haagmark, water resources manager for the city.

City officials during a Tuesday drought report said they are pleased with residents' water reduction.

Santa Barbara single-family residential water customers reduced their use of water by 30 percent in July and August, and multifamily units reduced water use by 18 percent.

"Let it rain, bring me some water," Mayor Helene Schneider said jokingly at the meeting. 

Santa Barbara plans to build a $55 million desalination plant to produce 3,125 acre-feet of water, which represents about one-fourth of the city’s current water demand. The plant would convert sea water into drinking water.

While many scientists are predicting a massive El Niño year that will bring heavy rains, they also believe that we will experience long periods of drought consistently going forward. 

The desalination plant will help alleviate some the of the stress during the drought years.

In addition, the council also unanimously approved spending $672,042 to study open ocean water intake versus subsurface intake, and a potable re-use feasibility study.

"I am very interested in direct potable reuse in conjunction with what we are doing at the desalt plant," said Councilman Gregg Hart.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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