Water Supply Update

Updated April 10, 2019

Above average winter rainfall in 2019 and rising Lake Cachuma levels are good signs that the drought may be ending.  On March 26th the Federal Government released additional water from Lake Cachuma to the District. On April 9th the Goleta Water District Board of Directors lowered the Water Shortage Emergency from a Stage III to a Stage I, effective immediately.  Under Stage l, the drought surcharge has been eliminated and restrictions on watering days and times have been lifted.

For more information on the Stage I Water Shortage click here.

What is the difference between a drought and a water supply emergency?

A drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a water shortage.

A water shortage emergency is something completely different…

A water shortage emergency, by contrast, occurs when the water supply is insufficient to meet projected demand in the near-term or the future.

When the District declares an emergency it’s because there are shortfalls in the water supply needed to serve the community.  Under state law, the District has the sole authority to determine if a water shortage emergency exists in its territory.  While the State and County can declare an imminent threat to public health and safety, it’s the local water agency that is responsible for managing the water supply to prevent potential shortfalls and ensure sufficient water exists for drinking, sanitation, and fire protection.

The District evaluates the 12- and 24- month projected supply and demand, and looks to all of its available supply sources ahead of making decisions related to water supplies.  These primarily include Lake Cachuma, but also the State Water Project, and the District’s groundwater resources.

Even when the drought ends and the Water Shortage Emergency is lifted, the District will continue to follow many of the operational changes to treatment and water delivery caused by the drought.  From the changing water quality conditions at the lake due to fires and increased vegetation, to replenishment of the groundwater basin, the effects of the drought will linger far into the future.

(Published March 15, 2019)