Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 4:54 pm | Fair 70º


Lake Cachuma Emergency Pumping System Still in Standby Mode for Now

Considering the amount of water in Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara County officials believe they won’t need to turn on the reservoir's new emergency pumping system until at least December.

The pumping system, initiated by the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board, is already operational and on standby mode until the lake’s water level gets too low for gravity to feed the Tecolote Tunnel that supplies the South Coast with water.  

When water levels drop below the gates for the North Portal Intake Tower, pumps will be needed to get water into the tunnel.

In an update to the COMB board this week, Ward said the current levels mean the gravity feed could keep working into December. 

Contractors finished construction in late August, and the pumps, when turned on, will be able to deliver 45 million gallons per day.

The project is being partially funded by COMB member agencies, including the Goleta Water District, the City of Santa Barbara, the Montecito Water District and the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

COMB also is anticipating about $2 million in funding from state and federal grants, according to COMB general manager Randy Ward.

The lake is at 28.7 percent capacity, with 55,474 acre-feet of water left, according to county numbers.

For the first two weeks of November, there was an average of 41.3 acre-feet of water going out through the tunnel and another 8 acre-feet per day being released into Hilton Creek as required for the steelhead trout population.

An acre-foot of water is 326,000 gallons. 

The Central Coast Water Authority, which manages the State Water Project deliveries for the Santa Barbara region, has been delivering an average of 42 acre-feet per day into Cachuma.

Santa Barbara County’s other reservoirs are also at low levels, with Santa Barbara’s Gibraltar Reservoir at 12.6 percent capacity, Montecito’s Jameson Reservoir at 47.9 percent, and Santa Maria’s Twitchell Reservoir at zero.

In January, the month before most South Coast water agencies declared a drought and started implementing restrictions, Cachuma was at 40.3 percent capacity.

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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