Tuesday, December 12 , 2017, 11:11 am | Haze Smoke 60º


Local News

Drought Forces Shutoff of Showers at El Capitan State Beach Campground

Campers at El Capitan State Beach are now experiencing Santa Barbara County's drought on an uncomfortable personal level.

The beach's public showers are no longer open because the site's well can't keep up with demand. 

The campground books spaces months in advance — there are three campers waiting for each space taken — and on a busy weekend, the campground will use about 30,000 gallons of water, said Eric Hjelstrom, who is the Santa Barbara sector superintendent for the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

"We're just barely meeting demand at this point," he told Noozhawk on Monday.

The showers have been shut down since last Thursday, and the entire campground is serviced by one well located in a nearby canyon.

"For several years, we've noticed a steady drop-off (in supply), and it's gradually gotten worse and worse," Hjelstrom said.

He and his staff were hoping the well could provide enough water until Labor Day, when campground visitation drops off.

About a week ago, however, the water reserve started to dip below what the beach needed for its critical fire reserve.

Hjelstrom said water services at Refugio State Beach, just a few miles away from El Capitan, haven't been affected and that campers can use showers there, since Refugio has a different well and aquifer. 

Gaviota State Beach showers are also still open, but the well servicing that campground also has a low water level and is undergoing a major system overhaul. 

It's unclear when the showers will be reopened, and an emergency pump replacement is also taking place as well as repairs to deal with iron build-up in the pipes.

"The last thing we want to do is surprise people," Hjelstrom said, adding he is working to update people through his Facebook page.

Hjelstrom said people can ask for a refund if they decide not to camp there because of the showers, but added that flush toilets and faucets still work in the park.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >