Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 4:45 am | Fair 53º


Local News

Montecito Water District Board Votes to Continue Water Availability Charge

The Montecito Water District Board of Directors voted to continue the water availability charge on all properties within the service boundary at Tuesday’s meeting, saying the charge is needed to maintain a reliable water system.

Since the per-parcel cost was initiated over 20 years ago, the amount has not increased, district general counsel Robert Cohen said.

The district collects approximately $300,000 annually from the charge and it is collected once a year along with property taxes. 

All water availability charge proceeds are used to fund water system replacement programs and ongoing project costs.

In 1996, the program approved 39 projects at an estimated cost of $5.1 million. After implementing the charge, the district has collected about $5.9 million per year.

“The charge provides funding for the cost of replacing certain infrastructure and enhancing the reliability of the district’s water distribution systems, which enhances the value of all properties within the district,” according to a district staff report.

According to a document released by the board, one of the program’s goals is to reduce the percentage of 1920s pipelines within the district.  

Water district staff reported a decline in water main breaks following a number of pipeline replacements between 1997-2008. However, break frequency has increased in the last couple of years which may be attributed to soil conditions and the drought, they said. 

There were 28 water main breaks on pipelines during the 2015-2016 year — 22 of which were on pre-1930s pipelines, according to district numbers.

The reported number of main breaks per year had ranged between five breaks in 2010 and 23 in 2014. For the 2015 calendar year, main breaks totaled 22.

Montecito Water District plans to target aging pipelines that are more than 91 years of service with a five-year water main replacement program. This replacement schedule will address more than 23 miles of 1920s-era pipelines with an annual cost exceeding $1 million, according to staff.

Specifics of the water availability charge include the following: 

  • For all parcels, $30 per acre or part thereof less than a full acre for the first 5 acres.
  • For parcels greater than 5 acres in size, $25 per acre or part thereof less than a full acre for the portion of the parcel between 5 and 10 acres.
  • For parcels greater than 10 acres in size, $20 per acre or part thereof less than a full acre for the portion of the parcel between 10 and 20 acres.
  • For parcels greater than 20 acres in size, $5 per acre or part thereof less than a full acre for the portion of the parcel in excess of 20 acres.
  • For parcels owned by the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District, (“Flood Control”) there shall be no charge so long as such parcels are held and used by Flood Control solely for the purpose of flood ways and/or flood control debris basins.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

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 >