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Local News

Central Coast Water Authority Makes Water Purchase for Santa Barbara County Agencies

The Central Coast Water Authority made a deal to buy water from the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency for districts in Santa Barbara County, and wants to start moving that water as soon as possible.

“It’s probably clear sailing, and we’ll hopefully get finalized by the Department of Water Resources in the next few weeks,” CCWA head Ray Stokes said.

CCWA’s deal is to buy 7,500 acre-feet of water from AVEK. Santa Barbara is getting about 4,200 acre-feet of that, Montecito bought 2,500 acre-feet, Santa Ynez bought 250, acre-feet and Solvang bought 500 acre-feet, Stokes said.

Water purchases won’t be affected by the CCWA’s recent bond-rating downgrade, Stokes said.

The entire agency was downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service because the City of Morro Bay hasn’t met its State Water Project financial obligations since 2008. Every agency is required to have its revenues minus operating expenses equal 125 percent of all State Water payments, Stokes said.

“Morro Bay right now is in the process of a rate study to see if they’ll increase rates. I anticipate they will, and if they demonstrate they can meet their coverage obligations with the new rate structure, Moody’s is more likely to reconsider the rating.”

CCWA probably won’t deal with the bond market until 2016 at the earliest, to refinance outstanding bonds, Stokes said.

“I don’t really anticipate any significant impacts to us at this point because we’re not going to the bond market,” Stokes said.

The rating downgrade applies to CCWA’s $68 million in debt service from its 2006A bonds.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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