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Central Coast Water Authority Finalizes Purchases from Vandenberg, Rice Farmers

Water is on the way to Santa Barbara County with two purchases finalized by the Central Coast Water Authority.

Seven different agencies within the CCWA are looking for supplemental water purchases to make supplies last during the drought.

They’re asking for 9,239 acre-feet of water, or more than 3 billion gallons, and the CCWA had purchased 4,049 acre-feet as of Thursday, at a cost of $3.7 million.

Helped by a water broker, the agency negotiated to buy water from rice farmers in the Biggs West-Gridley Water District and some carryover water from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

For each purchase, the CCWA splits up the water between interested agencies, proportionately to their total requested amounts. These two purchases have water going to the Goleta Water District, La Cumbre Mutual Water Co., the Montecito Water District and the City of Santa Barbara

Vandenberg’s water is already in the San Luis Reservoir, which has a direct line to Lake Cachuma and Santa Barbara County water agencies, but the other water has to come through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, according to CCWA Executive Director Ray Stokes.

That water can be transported starting in July, but Stokes expects 35 percent of it to be lost in the move.

There are some other negotiations in the works, and the water districts will be getting 5 percent of their State Water Project allotments in September, reversing the previous announcement that there would be no deliveries this year.

“Things are looking up,” Stokes said. “We still have a ways to go, but I’m feeling a lot better about it.”

Individual water districts are budgeting for millions of dollars more in water purchase funds for next year.

The Goleta Water District, which approved its budget this week, expects to spend $11.9 million to buy water next year.

Agencies are also finding money for an emergency pumping project at Lake Cachuma, since falling reservoir levels will soon make it impossible to get water through the intake tower to southern Santa Barbara County.

Noozhawk staff writer 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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