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Local News

Contractors Complete Emergency Pumping System Project at Lake Cachuma

Contractors successfully tested the emergency pumping system project for the dropping water levels at Lake Cachuma, ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline given by the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board.

Cushman Contracting Corp. was chosen to design, build and operate the pumping stations to get the reservoir’s water up to the North Portal Intake Tower and into the Tecolote Tunnel, which connects the lake to Santa Barbara County’s South Coast.  

When water levels drop below the intake tower gates, pumps will be needed to get water into the system.

Lee Cushman updated board members at Monday’s meeting, saying the system is completed and ready to go whenever COMB decides to start operating it.

“We should be ready when you need us,” he said.

COMB and its consultants had to get several environmental permits and connect PG&E power to the project site in addition to the construction itself.

Cushman Contracting tested the pumping station the week of Aug. 11, Cushman said Monday. The pumps are contractually obligated to pump 45 million gallons perday during operation.

There are additional buoys in the water near the new pipeline and barge, with 5 miles-per-hour signs to warn boaters, and security personnel stay on site 24 hours a day to protect the equipment, Cushman noted. 

COMB is charged a monthly rate for the emergency pumping station, whether it’s on standby or operational, and four of its member agencies have to come up with the money to pay for the project.

COMB and the water purveyors are pursuing federal and state grant money, but the situation is constantly evolving, according to general manager Randy Ward.

The agencies pitching in include the Carpinteria Valley Water District, the Goleta Water District, the Montecito Water District and the City of Santa Barbara.

As of now, it looks like state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, may have earmarked some Department of Water Resources funding for drought-related projects, Ward said.

The State Water Resources Control Board also intends to award $1.4 million toward the cost for Goleta, Montecito and Santa Barbara, Ward said.

Carpinteria hasn't received a commitment yet but is in the same position to get funding, general manager Charles Hamilton said. 

Loan documents, on the other hand, have been finalized and payments have been made, Ward said.

COMB budgeted $917,000 for the design, project management and electrical installation last year and budgeted another $4.7 million for the current year. Of that, $1.6 million has already been spent, according to COMB records.

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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