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Santa Barbara’s current water supply sources

Santa Barbara has one of the most diverse water supply portfolios in the state—that diversity helps keep our water supply reliable even in extended drought. The following sources currently serve all of the community’s water needs. Water Vision Santa Barbara will consider the future role of each of these water sources in the City’s future portfolio, in addition to exploring new or emerging sources not currently in use.

1. GILBRALTAR RESERVOIR — Located on the Santa Ynez River about 9 miles north of the City and upstream from Cachuma Reservoir, Gibraltar Reservoir is the source of about 30% of the City’s water supply during a normal water year and is over 100 years old. LEARN MORE

2.   CACHUMA RESERVOIR — Lake Cachuma is located on the Santa Ynez River about 25 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. Water is delivered to the South Coast via the 6.4 mile Tecolote Tunnel through the Santa Ynez Mountains, then 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. LEARN MORE

3.   GROUNDWATER — Groundwater is primarily produced from two groundwater basins (or aquifers) and water is extracted via eight wells spread across the downtown and San Roque area. A third basin in the westside area is  used to supplement the recycled water system, since the groundwater quality is relatively poor. LEARN MORE

4.   RECYCLED WATER —The City uses recycled water that is produced at the El Estero Water Resource Center for irrigation of large landscape sites such as parks, schools, and golf courses. Every gallon of recycled water used for irrigation saves a gallon of potable water that can be used in homes and businesses. LEARN MORE

5.   STATE WATER PROJECT — State Water comes from Oroville Reservoir, north of Sacramento. Water is delivered through a series of pipes throughout the state and is ultimately delivered to Cachuma Reservoir.  The City’s share of State Water Project Water is 3,300 acre-feet; however, the full annual allocation is rarely available. LEARN MORE

6.   DESALINATION — The City's Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant produces 3,125 Acre-feet per year of drinking water, which represents about 30% of the City’s demand. The plant uses state-of-the-art technology and design practices to reduce electrical demand and environmental impacts, while providing an important water supply for the City. LEARN MORE

7.   WATER CONSERVATION — Water conservation by customers is an important part of the City’s water supply. Water conservation measures are evaluated for cost effectiveness based on avoided cost of additional water supplies. LEARN MORE 

Last Updated: May 22, 2020
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