Cuyama Valley

Jeremy P. Jacobs/E&E News

Where does the Central Coast get its water, our most fundamental of needs? Some comes in the form of rain filling up local reservoirs; some from the State Water Project, a long system of pipes and canals that carry melted snow from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the central and southern part of the state. And a significant amount comes from underground, pumped up via wells.

Until just four years ago, groundwater was totally unregulated in California. But extended droughts made it clear that Californians needed to figure how to manage the underground water supply.

First Solar

Plans to build a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley now have the unanimous support of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors voted on the project Tuesday afternoon after hearing from several speakers in favor of the project and none against, according to Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council, an organization supporting the solar field.

This marks the first utility-scale solar project for the entire county.

USGS

A new scientific federal study shows groundwater in Santa Barbara County's Cuyama Valley is being depleted two times faster than it's being replenished.

Groundwater is the sole source for agricultural, domestic and municipal water in the valley during dry periods, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 

Scientist Randy Hansen is the lead author for the USGS study and says the water quality coming from the basin is not very good to begin with and over-pumping can make it worse.

First Solar

UPDATE: July 22, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to approve plans for a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley.

The proposal passed with a couple of amendments aimed at protecting California condors.

Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council says public comment ran 19 to 2 in favor of the project.

The issue now heads to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Original Story