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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 2:19 am | Fair 51º


Santa Barbara Supervisors OK Talks to Reacquire Suspended ‘Drought Buffer’ Water

The Board of Supervisors gave the OK Tuesday to have Santa Barbara County staff start negotiating with the Central Coast Water Authority for reacquiring suspended State Water Project supplies.

County agencies get State Water Project deliveries via pipeline, which is managed by the Central Coast Water Authority, and 12,214 acre-feet was suspended in the early 1980s.

Five water agencies —​ Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Santa Maria, Solvang and the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District Improvement District No. 1 — are interested in getting that amount of water deliveries back, and are willing to pay the suspended capital costs, plus interest, and annual costs for the water.

The water would serve as a drought buffer since the current pipeline system wasn’t built to handle the extra capacity, which means any year the Department of Water Resources allocation is less than 100 percent, CCWA can deliver this water.  

Costs are estimated at $30 million for agencies that participate and annual costs are expected to be $150 per acre-foot, according to the CCWA.

The supervisors are concerned about the county’s liability if water agencies default on payments, but they voted unanimously to have staff negotiate with the CCWA and come back with an agreement that deals with costs and liabilities.

Having this water as a drought buffer could add some reliability during a drought, said Robert McDonald, general manager of the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

Ray Stokes, the executive director of CCWA, said the chance of a payment default is very remote. The county is particularly concerned about Santa Maria, and Stokes said the city agreed to place a deposit with CCWA in the event of default.

The CCWA will work with the county to make an agreement that indemnifies the county and has costs borne by participating agencies, said Jack Boysen, Santa Maria councilman and CCWA chairman.

The agreement will include provisions to have any excess water first available to Santa Barbara County members of CCWA at cost, Boysen added. 

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.

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