The Goleta Groundwater Basin is a reliable source of ongoing supply as well as a supplemental source of water in emergency or drought situations. The 1989 Wright Judgment and 1991 voter-approved SAFE Ordinance set forth a complex set of management parameters for the Goleta Basin, including defined limits on extraction, storage requirements, allowed uses, and the establishment and maintenance of a Drought Buffer for use in times of drought emergency. The District has a court-determined right to pump and treat 2,350 AFY of the court-defined annual safe yield of the Basin. The portion of the annual right to extract groundwater that is not exercised by the District is stored in the Basin for use in dry years. As of 2015, the District has approximately 48,000 AF of water stored in the Basin.
In Water Year 2015-16 the Goleta Basin is a vital supply source that assists the District in meeting the water needs of the Goleta Valley, necessitating ongoing significant investment in the District’s wells and distribution system to prevent service interruptions to customers in the future. The District is currently utilizing all of its seven active wells, which presently have the capability of producing between 5,000 AF and 6,000 AF per year in drought conditions. The District’s well rehabilitation projects currently underway will further increase production capacity in the Basin. The District also uses these wells to inject excess water from Lake Cachuma into the groundwater Basin during wet winters when excess water is available, providing additional stored water for future use during dry periods. The wells and aquifer storage can provide a substantial backup source of quality water in the event that Lake Cachuma water is temporarily reduced by a drought, earthquake, or other emergency.
The District completed an extensive Groundwater Management Plan in 2010, available online here. This document is currently being updated to reflect changed conditions since 2010.