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Cachuma Reservoir

Lake CahumaLake Cachuma and Bradbury Dam are located on the Santa Ynez River about 25 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. Bradbury Dam is owned and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and was completed in 1953. Water is diverted from the reservoir through the 6.4 mile Tecolote Tunnel through the Santa Ynez mountains to the South Coast region. From the tunnel outlet, the water is carried through the 24 mile South Coast Conduit. About midway down the conduit, water is treated at the City’s Cater Water Treatment Plant and distributed to residents within the City’s service area, as well as put back into the conduit for delivery to residents in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Cachuma Project Member Units

City of Santa Barbara
Goleta Water District
Montecito Water District
Carpinteria Valley Water District
Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement Dist. No. 1

Drainage Area: 417 square miles (including Gibraltar drainage area)
Water Surface Elevation at Original Maximum Storage: 750 ft above sea level
Water Surface Elevation at Maximum Surcharge: 753 ft above sea level
Annual Yield: The Cachuma Project has a current yield of 25,714 acre feet per year and the City is entitled to 32.19% of the water available, which at the current yield is 8,277 AFY during normal years. Deliveries are typically decreased when the reservoir drops below 100,000 AF of storage.
Current Capacity: 186,636 AF at 750’ elevation, 195,578 AF at 753’ elevation

Operating Criteria

The project operates under a permit granted by the State Water Resources Control Board. Project water is accumulated to the extent that inflow is not needed to satisfy the release requirements. It is delivered to the member units in accordance with a Master Contract between U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, and the Cachuma Project Authority. The contract was renewed in 1996 for a twenty five-year term.

Cost Information

The water supply contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sets the unit cost of the City's share of project yield at approximately $100 per acre foot for a total annual cost of approximately $993,000. Since this cost is treated as a payback of capital cost and fixed operating costs, it is not considered a variable cost. Variable costs are the same as for Gibraltar ($100/AF) since the water is treated at Cater Treatment Plant.

Last Updated: Nov 24, 2014