Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 11:11 am | Partly Cloudy 63º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Montecito Water District Suspends Overuse Penalties After Boost in Water Supplies

In response to a wetter winter than anyone expected, the Montecito Water District on Tuesday decided to stop penalizing customers who exceed their monthly water allocation.

The change was effective immediately, and includes penalties incurred during March, said district general manager Nick Turner.

The first overage in a given year resulted in a $30 charge per hundred cubic feet of water over a customer’s allocation. Subsequent overages in the same one-year period meant a $45 charge per HCF over allocation, which is based on property size and season.

Turner said about 34 percent of customers were hit with a penalty at least once in 2016, though some were due to accidents like leaks, and could be appealed and overturned. Some, he noted, are incurred by people who don’t mind paying the penalty month after month.

Within the next two months, the board will consider changing or rescinding the regulations imposing the penalties and allocations.

According to the district, its 4,600 customers have averaged a whopping 46-percent conservation rate since 2015, compared to its 2013 water usage. 

The partial replenishment of Lake Cachuma and Jameson Reservoir, two key sources of water for Montecito and Summerland, provided the district with some needed wiggle room.

District staff’s recommendation to suspend penalty enforcement “was backed by a preliminary analysis showing that Montecito Water District has sufficient water supplies to meet customer water demand for the next three years,” the district said in a statement.

The analysis, it noted, was based in part on conservation continuing around 30 percent and “an ongoing critical drought scenario.”

The district is currently in negotiations with Santa Barbara to annually purchase 1,250 acre-feet of water produced by the desalination plant that the city is working to bring online this spring.

“As far as the urgency of completing the deal, (the rains have) definitely provided us with more time,” Turner said. “But as far as the desire to come to an agreement and incorporate desalination into our water portfolio, that has not changed.”

As the Montecito Water District announced the suspension of penalty enforcement, Santa Barbara announced that its lawn-watering moratorium is now voluntary, though other restrictions remain in place.

Santa Barbara officials announced that a water shortage projected for later this year, which prompted the watering ban, disappeared during the winter’s rains.

Both the city and the Montecito Water District emphasized that, despite the laxer rules, conservation is still imperative.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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.

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.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • 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 >

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 >