Development and Water

How is Development Approved?

Process for Issuing Can and Will REV

Myths and Facts About Development

Myth:  The District is issuing new water allocations during a water shortage.

Fact:  No. Under the SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance, the District has not issued any new water allocations since October 2014. The District is not obligated to provide new water service once a water shortage emergency has been declared if a proposed project does not have a pre-existing right to receive water services.  The District has only issued meters to projects that secured water allocations prior to October 1, 2014.

Myth:  The District can block development during a water shortage.

Fact:  Much of the current construction is for developments that secured water rights years ago, before the recent drought. By law, the District cannot take these rights away, nor can it prevent property owners from exercising water entitlements that were approved and paid for prior to the water shortage. While many are frustrated to see development during a water shortage, under state law the District is obligated to provide water service to projects that have valid pre-existing water entitlements. 

Myth:  The District approves development projects.

Fact:  The District does not approve projects, it simply serves water to homes, businesses, and agricultural operations in its service territory. The District has no land use authority, meaning the District does not approve or deny development projects or determine whether or not the project will have adverse impacts on the community. That is the responsibility of the City of Goleta and the County of Santa Barbara. Water supply and impacts are only one of eighteen resources categories project applicants must address during the environmental review process.

Myth:  New development erases the gains made through conservation.

Fact: In the 12 months before the District stopped issuing new entitlements, customers saved more than 51 times the amount of water used by new development.  That year customers conserved 982 AFY, while projects coming online accounted for 19 AFY, less than one half of one percent of the 14,125 acre feet used by District customers.

Myth:  All these Multi-Family condo and apartment units are adding significantly to community water demands.

Fact:  Average Multi-Family Residential water use is 36 gallons per person per day, which is almost half of the 60 gallons the average Single Family Residential user uses each day.  California Green Building Code (CALGreen), California state law, and the Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) require stringent water efficiency for renovation and new development.  While upgrading older plumbing and fixtures, and taking out larger lawns associated with older homes can significantly improve water efficiency, new developments are required to meet much stricter conservation requirements. Projects without prior entitlements are not hooked up due to the current new water service restrictions under the SAFE Ordinance.

Average Annual Demand vs New Demand Infographic

(Published August 5, 2016)