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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 6:31 am | Fog/Mist 43º


Santa Barbara Feeling Confident About Meeting 2017 Water Demands

Amid heavy rainfall and plans to reactivate Santa Barbara’s desalination plant, the City of Santa Barbara is on track to meet its water needs for the year.

The city’s projected 2017 water supplies will be sufficient to match anticipated demand, according to Water Resources manager Joshua Haggmark.

“It has been an eventful month since we last met,” he told the Water Commission on Thursday. “In general, Santa Barbara is looking good.”

To ensure an adequate supply, however, Haggmark stressed the importance of customers hitting Santa Barbara’s target of a 40 percent reduction in water use.

City staff gave an update on local conservation numbers, noting that Santa Barbarans had cut water use by 36 percent, according to the 12-month average water conservation reduction at the end of the 2016 water year.

“The recent rains have been great, but we aren’t out of the woods yet, and conservation is still important,” Haggmark said. “This has certainly been as optimistic as it has been in five years.”

Parts of Santa Barbara County remain in a dry spell, with sections of California moving into a sixth year of drought.

Haggmark said the county is still suffering from “extreme drought conditions.”

A sliver of the county — the South Coast — remains classified as an exceptional drought area, as of Jan. 19, according to data released by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a publication issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Agriculture Department.

“We haven’t benefited as much as the rest of the state,” Haggmark said. “I remain hopeful that our conditions will continue to improve.”

A city-wide lawn watering ban went into effect Jan. 1 to conserve water.

To help alleviate the use of potable water supplies, the city’s water conservation program offers free services and training.

Free water checkups are provided to all municipal customers to assist in evaluating water usage indoor and out.

Additionally, a landscape rebate program offers a refund on eligible, pre-approved material costs for landscape water efficiency.

The biggest impact will come from the reactivation of potable water production from Santa Barbara’s desalination facility at 525 E. Yanonali St.

The Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant — which is estimated to be a $70 million project — is expected to be completed in February or March, nearly 24 years after the facility was deactivated.

The plant will produce 3,125 acre-feet of water per year for Santa Barbara, but is permitted to provide 10,000 acre-feet.

An acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover an acre of land at about a foot deep. A typical household uses around half of an acre-foot in a year.

At Thursday’s meeting, staff also honored the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, located at 1212 Mission Canyon Road, with the Santa Barbara 2016 Water Hero Award for its achievement in conservation and sustainable practices.

The annual award highlights organizations, businesses and individuals that lead in water conservation efforts.

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.

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