New Water Allocations

Beginning in January 2024, the District will resume issuing new water allocations for the first time in nearly ten years. Under the SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance, the District is authorized to issue one percent (1%) of its total available water supply for new water connections each year that certain conditions under SAFE are met. Water allocations are made on a first-come, first-served basis to projects that have received approval from the applicable land use agency. Additional information and links to useful resources are provided below. 


Q: Is there a waiting list for new water allocations/meters?
A: No. Projects can request new water allocations on a first-come, first-served basis. No particular project has priority over another.

Q: When can new projects secure their water entitlement?
A: Per District Code, new projects can only secure new water entitlement after final approval of the project by the applicable land use agency. Applicants without final approvals by the land use agency cannot “pre-pay” for water entitlement. The District does not issue water allocations to parcels without an approved development project.

Q: What is the process for requesting a new water allocation?
A: Potential Applicants who desire to apply for water service from the Goleta Water District AND who need to process an application with the County of Santa Barbara Planning & Development Department or with the City of Goleta Planning and Environmental Service Department must obtain a Preliminary Water Service Determination (PWSD) from the Goleta Water District.

A written request for a PWSD should be submitted to District Water Supply & Conservation Department. An Applicant must then complete, sign and submit an application for water service. Include all required documents and fees needed for processing and determining the conditions for water service for the project.

After District staff complete the review of the application and determine the requirements to provide the requested water service, a Preliminary Conditions Letter (PCL) will be issued to the Applicant stating the conditions that must be met in order to obtain new water services. After the District has completed its review of the construction plans, a Conditional Can & Will Serve Letter (CCWSL) will be issued to the Applicant. A CCWSL states the maximum amount of water to be provided by the District for the specific project and property, subject to issuance of a final building permit by the applicable land use agency and subject to water availability. The District will issue a Final Can and Will Serve Letter (FCWSL) after the final building permit is received and all outstanding fees are paid.

Additional information and links to relevant forms and procedures are available here:

Q: If water is not allocated in one year, does it roll over cumulatively to the next year?
A: No. The SAFE Ordinance authorizes the District to release a maximum of 1% of its annual total available supply for new water connections for that year. The District must re-evaluate its supplies every year to determine if it can continue to issue new allocations. 

Q: What is the SAFE Ordinance?
A: In 1991, Goleta Valley voters approved the SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance. The SAFE Ordinance prohibits the District from releasing potable water to for new or additional service connections except when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The District is receiving 100% of its deliveries normally allowed from Cachuma
  • The District has met legal obligations in the Wright Judgment that governs the Goleta Groundwater Basin
  • There is no water rationing
  • The District has met its obligation to the Annual Storage Commitment to the Drought Buffer

All conditions are now met for the first time since October 2014.

Q: How much does it cost to purchase a new water allocation?
A: The District requires payment of a New Water Supply Charge for each acre-foot of new water entitlement needed. The current District charges for each type of water required for a project are included as an Appendix to the District Code, and are:

Q: Who approves development projects and what is the Goleta Water District’s role?
A: Development is approved by agencies given land use authority under the State Constitution, including the City of Goleta and the County of Santa Barbara. The District has no land use authority and does not approve projects or determine whether or not a project will have adverse impacts on the community. The District’s role is limited to issuing water allocations through the Can and Will Serve process illustrated above.

Q: How does the District plan for future growth? 
A:  The District has an extensive water supply planning process, including water management plans (available on the District’s website) and water supply assessments submitted to the state annually. Additionally, the state-required Urban Water Management Plan requires the District to perform an in depth water supply and demand analysis every five years and illustrate that its projected supplies are sufficient to meet projected new demand, including projected population growth and proposed development.  The District’s Urban Water Management Plan estimates water demand based upon full buildout and population growth through 2045.

Q:  How much water will new development use if approved?
A:  Many new developments are multi-family housing units with mainly indoor water usage and shared low water use outdoor landscaping. New housing is not projected to materially increase water use, largely because of water efficiency requirements for new development and renovations, including plumbing code changes and water wise landscaping. The average multi-family residential unit uses approximately 0.15 acre-feet per year per unit, which equates to about a quarter of the average usage for a single family residence.  The District anticipates allocating approximately 80 AF of new water allocations in 2024, which is less than one percent (.08%) of average annual demand.