Prudent Supply Planning for a Dry Day

California is known for its cycles of drought and Santa Barbara County is no exception.  Lake Cachuma, the primary source of water in the region, spilled as recently as 2011 while, just two years later, 2013 was one of the driest years on record across the state.  Accordingly, on Friday, January 17, 2014 California Governor Brown issued a state Drought Declaration followed shortly after the County of Santa Barbara also issuing a formal Drought Declaration.

While the State and County Drought Declarations underscore the significant impact the current dry conditions are having on California, they do not mean that the Goleta Water District (District) is in a water shortage emergency.  With the support and investment of our community, the Goleta Water District (District) has made extensive and ongoing investments to ensure the long-term reliability of its water supply.  Additionally, water conservation has been a way of life in Goleta since the 1970s, with District customers achieving the lowest per capita water use on the South Coast.  This helps protect and stretch our finite water resources to sustain us during times of drought.

The District treats and delivers about 14,000 acre feet per year (AFY) of water to the community.  Each acre foot contains 325,900 gallons, which statewide equates to about six months of water for a family of four.  Here in water-thrifty Goleta, however, that same amount of water lasts a family of four up to two years.  That is a statistic that is a true testament to the success of the regional conservation efforts. 

Developing and maintaining a healthy water supply portfolio to serve our customers has always been a District priority.  As a result, your water comes from four distinct sources – Lake Cachuma, the Goleta Groundwater Basin, recycled water, and imported water from the State Water Project.  We have approximately 16,500 AFY of water available for the service area in an average year and access to additional groundwater and State Water under certain circumstances.  Access to these diverse water supplies helps the District to meet the water demands of 87,000 residential, commercial, and agricultural customers in the Goleta Valley. 

In 2014, the District will maximize use of State Water to protect and extend our other supply sources as long as possible in the event of a multi-year drought.  Using State Water supplies directly reduces the District’s need to draw on both Cachuma and the Groundwater Basin in 2014, preserving these sources should dry conditions persist beyond the end of the year. 

No two water districts are the same, and drought affects each water provider’s ability to meet customer demands differently.  As some of our colleagues along the South Coast and across the State are implementing drastic drought responses now, the Goleta Water District’s long term planning and investments in supplies and conservation programs, enables us to supply enough water to meet normal levels of customer demand through two more dry seasons.  This is not to say the Goleta area is immune to drought cycles.  If current dry conditions persist or worsen, our customers will be asked to conserve more.  Regardless of the weather, the investments our customers have made in water resources and the commitment that they have made toward conservation have prepared the District to meet the water needs of the community today and into the future.