Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 12:15 am | Overcast 59º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Advice

Montecito Water District Suspends Work on Desalination Plant Project

The Montecito Water District is suspending planning work on its proposed desalination plant, instead putting all of its efforts into partnering with the city of Santa Barbara's facility.

Santa Barbara is reactivating its existing seawater-to-potable plant at a cost of $55 million, and water production will start next fall.

As local water supplies dwindle, Montecito is trying to partner with Santa Barbara to get a piece of the water production.  

“Desalination is essential for Montecito’s future,” General Manager Tom Mosby said.

Since Santa Barbara already has all the necessary permit approvals, it is hesitant to bring in a partner without written support from permitting agencies.

Montecito hopes to begin negotiations with Santa Barbara after it receives letters of support for a regional facility from the California Coastal Commission and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Montecito has been simultaneously looking into building its own desalination plant, but the water board voted this week to suspend that work for 60 days.

The district can save money by not pulling the regulatory trigger for its own plant, although the suspension won’t affect the option to do it later, board member Charles Newman said.

The district is suspending all consultant work and negotiations with the Santa Barbara Cemetery Association to use the property for the desalination plant’s intake and discharge facilities.

Water board members also discussed the water availability charge that is used for capital improvement projects such as pipeline replacement.

It provides about $300,000 annually, which is a small fraction of total infrastructure funding.

Crews are currently replacing a 1,000-foot section of pipe on San Ysidro Road that was installed in 1923.

The line broke twice — with expensive repairs — in recent years, and the replacement project will cost about $200,000, according to the district.

Mosby said 20.6 percent of district pipes were installed before 1930, and the replacement projects are focused on those oldest pipes, many of which are made of cast iron.

The district planned on replacing two miles per year for five years, but the drought has slowed down those efforts, Mosby said.

There are no plans to raise the water availability charge, which is $30 per acre for parcels within the district boundaries, and any change would require a two-thirds majority vote. 

Noozhawk managing 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.

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 >