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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 9:18 am | Fair 56º


Lake Cachuma Releases to Send Water Into Santa Ynez River

Action to help recharge watersheds for communities downstream

Water will be released from Lake Cachuma, starting at 8 a.m. Monday, to help recharge groundwater basins along the Santa Ynez River.

The Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District has asked that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the reservoir, begin the water releases.

Initially released at about 150 cubic feet per second — 300 acre feet per day — the water will move through Bradbury Dam and downstream to provide recharge as far as the Lompoc Valley, district officials said.

The water will be confined to the river’s “low flow” channel, and the release is expected to continue for about three months. 

Flowing water may impede traffic on low river crossings, and caution is advised near moving water at all times. 

Although the level of  Lake Cachuma will drop, facilities at the lake’s county park, including the boat ramps, will remain in full operation.

Online camping reservations can be made by clicking here.

Releases like the one starting Monday help replenish parched groundwater basins that supply cities, towns and farmers along the Santa Ynez River and in the Lompoc Valley.

Despite heavy rains last winter, the Santa Ynez Watershed continues to deal with the effects of a multi-year drought.

This release is expected to add up to approximately 16,000 acre-feet of water.

The release will not impact water deliveries to the South Coast and has been coordinated with the Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board (COMB), district official said.

The combination of South Coast water use and the water rights release will reduce the water level in the reservoir to approximately 72,000 acre-feet, or an elevation of 700 feet above sea level, by the end of November. The lake is full at 750 feet.

Cachuma Reservoir stores water for the South Coast and downstream users in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys. 

Water for the South Coast is released to the Tecolote Tunnel through the Santa Ynez Mountains, while water for areas below the Bradbury Dam, which forms Lake Cachuma, is released into the river from outlet works.

The release is consistent with orders regarding State Water rights as well as agreements among users who store water in Lake Cachuma, authorities said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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