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Recent rains improve Santa Barbara's water supply, protecting city from droughts in coming years

Gibraltar Reservoir
Photo courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara
Gibraltar Reservoir

Officials say the city of Santa Barbara’s water supply is secure for the coming years after the storm in January.

Recent rains overflowed the Gibraltar Reservoir, a key city water source.

City of SB Water Supply and Services Manager Dakota Corey said the rainfall significantly improved the city’s water supply outlook in the face of drought in the coming years.

“We went from potentially having to enact mandatory conservation measures in the spring, if we had had a dry winter, to having ample supplies to meet our community’s needs for the next three years at least,” Corey said.

Corey said due to Santa Barbara’s vulnerability to drought and natural disasters, the city has intentionally developed one of the most diverse water supply mixes in the state.

Besides playing an important role in the city’s water supply portfolio, Gibraltar Reservoir’s high water levels also enable the city to operate its Hydroelectric Plant.

When the city’s water supply is running at full capacity, it can produce enough carbon-free electricity to completely offset 100% of the Cater Water Treatment Plant’s total electrical usage.

Corey said even though recent rains have drastically improved Santa Barbara’s water supply prospects for future droughts, she says it’s still important for residents to do their part in conserving water.

“With potentially future dry years around the corner, we just want to say thank you to our community and encourage them to continue to use our resources efficiently,” Corey said. “And if we can do that, we've got a secure water future for the next several years.”

The Santa Barbara City Council also discussed the city’s water supply at their meeting yesterday, which you can watch on santabarbaraca.gov.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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