Santa Barbara County Live Webcam

Earlier this week, KCBX reported water reservoirs on the Central Coast have been getting a much-needed recharge from the past month’s rainstorms.

Several reservoirs, like Lopez Lake and Lake Nacimiento, have increased by many acre feet. Lopez has seen a rise of six feet in elevation since the fourth of January. Nacimiento rose 23 feet in that same amount of time and 12 feet in just the past three days.

However, reservoirs on the southern Central Coast haven’t been receiving nearly as much of a refill. Specifically, Lake Cachuma, which serves the Santa Ynez Valley, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria.

Courtesy of Photo: San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department

After years of drought, reservoirs in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have dropped to record-low elevation levels. But after this weekend’s storms and with a rainy week ahead, storage levels are starting to rebound, and that's good news for future uses such as agricultural irrigation and recharging ground water supplies.

Tom Wilmer

More than 100 million trees have died in California since 2010, according to data released Friday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Two-thirds - or 62 million - have died just in the past year.

San Luis Obispo

The southern half of California—including a large chunk of the Central Coast—continues to struggle with extreme drought conditions. Technically, much of the area is listed as D4 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, the most serious of levels.

Thomas Wilmer


 In search of solutions to the extreme threat to California’s forests and watersheds, correspondent Tom Wilmer met with Bob Kingman, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Assistant Executive Officer in Auburn, California. He then visits with Sean O’Brien in San Luis Obispo about urban forested Monterey Pines in conjunction with Cal Fire in Cambria.

Randol White - KCBX News

A project is in the works to relocate the water pumping barge at Cachuma Lake to accommodate receding lake levels.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

The Central Coast and California’s water situation is a source of passion for one member of Cal Poly’s Sociology Department. 


Sierra Nevada snowpack numbers released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Wednesday show a mixed story for Californians. 

KCBX News - Randol White

A Cal Poly professor is headed to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to help shape national policy on water issues.

Randol White - KCBX News

Unusually warm and dry weather is expected for the final day of February, similar conditions to what was seen along the Central Coast for most of the month.


Central Coast residents saw record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday as a high pressure system remained parked overhead, not unlike the atmospheric conditions of the past few winters.

Local desalinization research could change the future of California facilities

Jan 7, 2016
City of Santa Barbara

The face of California desalinization may change in the next decade thanks to technology being developed locally.

Alta Colina, Paso Robles - 2015

Winemakers on the Central Coast say the 2015 harvest started and ended early with a low yield. 

Thomas Loster

Scholars from around the world are coming to the Central Coast this week to study how to best handle a catastrophic drought situation. 

Jim Logan

Continuing research out of UC Santa Barbara shows our coastal oaks are starting to show signs of stress related to the ongoing drought and record heat.

Madrone Landscapes

Our drought-inspired live landscaping and gardening show (the second one of the year) included a panel of experts who took calls from listeners, and a conversation with San Luis Obispo's Utilities Services Manager Ron Munds.

Mr. Munds explained how the city's anonymous "Report an Issue" tip line works.

Host: Randol White

In-studio guests:

Study: water quality suffers during California's ongoing drought

Jul 21, 2015
Flickr member HereStanding

California's drought is not only affecting the quantity of drinking water available, but also the quality.

Proposed Laetitia housing development will soon go before SLO County Planning

May 27, 2015
Karen Garcia, KCBX Newsroom

Laetitia Vineyards has been working on a project to build small groups of houses on property it owns between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo, while maintaining much of the grape vines that are currently there. The industry refers to this type of development as an ag cluster.

We were given a tour of the area surrounding the vineyards by neighbor Tim Toomey, who lives just a few minutes away from the entrance of the proposed housing project.

"My family has been in this area for five generations, this land here was part of the original rancho Nipomo," he said.  

Surendra Dara - University of California

The ongoing drought is causing headaches for local farmers, but according to numbers released Thursday by Santa Barbara County, it hasn't yet hurt the local agriculture industry enough to reverse overall production values.

2014 was another record year for the county's growers, who grossed nearly $1.49 billion. This number is the total of all ag sales in the county and should not be confused with profits.

Strawberries remain the county's top crop, with wine grapes coming in second. Broccoli placed third.

City of Arroyo Grande Facebook Page

The City of Arroyo Grande will soon consider moving into Stage I drought conservation status according to Mayor Pro Tem Kristen Barneich. She said Wednesday night that staff is working on a proposal for the council to consider at an upcoming meeting.

Barneich said she believes the report will be recieved by council either at the next meeting on April 28, or the following meeting on May 12.

Tuesday night, the council approved new measures to help meet the governor's water reduction demands of 25 percent.

Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD)

Customers of the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) will be paying more for water in the coming months as the District hooks up to an additional water source.

Michael LeBrun is the District's General Manager and says rates will jump by about 30 percent in July when the water starts flowing.

The new pipeline will bring water in from Santa Maria to help diversify Nipomo's options. Currently, the area's sole source is groundwater.

LeBrun says the project has been in the works for decades and is gaining in local support amidst the current drought.

Flickr member HereStanding

Governor Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring mandatory water rationing for the first time in California's history. He announced the plan from a snowless Ski Resort in the Sierra Nevada.

The spot where Brown was standing would have had five feet of snow during an average year, but instead the ground at his feet was bare. The state's snowpack survey showed record low levels of water storage at just five percent of normal.

Randol White - KCBX News

Santa Barbara's primary water source during a normal year, Lake Cachuma, will figuratively run dry as early as October according to official estimates. This would be the first time in the project's history.

Water will still be in the lake, but there will be no new usable water, according to Joshua Haggmark, the City of Santa Barbara's Water Resources Manager.

To address the growing problem, a Stage III drought could be issued in May for Santa Barbara customers, which would move rationing from voluntary to mandatory.

Jason Lopez

District leaders in Cambria say the area's emergency water supply project is now in compliance, after receiving a "Notice of Violation" from the regional water quality control board.

The project, designed to keep the village from running out of water during the ongoing drought, began officially operating in late January after a couple of months of testing.

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper

It won't be in time for this weekend's storm, but a local group is helping people install rain barrels through a partnership with local wineries and breweries.

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper teamed up with Figueroa Mountain Brewery for an event this Sunday that's already fully booked.

An expert will explain how to install the barrels and conversion kits for your home's gutter system. 

Organizer Kira Redmond says just because all the barrels are already spoken for this time around, there's still room for more people to attend.

Randol White - KCBX News

The latest water conservation statistics show the people of Montecito are among the best in the state when it comes to taking the drought seriously.

Numbers released this week by the State Department of Water Resources show Californians, as a whole, cut year-over-year water usage this past December by roughly 22 percent. However, in Montecito that number hit nearly 64.19 percent—the second highest rate in California according to a tool from Southern California Public Radio.

National Weather Service

Rain showers are expected to hit the Central Coast Friday and continue through the weekend. Totals will vary greatly throughout the area with most of the rain falling to the north, possibly up to three inches.

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties can expect steady rain over the next few days said Joe Sirard, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. He said that urban runoff and minor flooding will be possible, mainly on Saturday. 

Flickr member jchants

Water purveyors in Los Osos released an updated basin plan Monday that details strategies for protecting the groundwater basin's resources.  

Kathy Kivley is the general manager of the Los Osos Community Services District. She said the plan is "vital" for the community. 

Jordan Bell

Experts at Cal Poly are starting work on a project to help disadvantaged communities in California access safe drinking water.

The ongoing drought has left communities particularly those in California's Central Valley with two major problems: a lack of water, and the water they do have contains concentrated contaminates like nitrates.

Water is the main focus at Cal Poly's Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) for Dr. Stuart Styles. He says because of the drought a lot of farmer's turned to groundwater, drying up surrounding wells.

Randol White - KCBX News

An emergency addition to the water uptake system at Lake Cachuma will allow the Santa Barbara area to continue pumping, even as the lake level continues to drop.

Cachuma's gravity-fed system was near bottoming out due to the historic drought.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson along with Assembly member Das Williams announced Friday that $3 million dollars in state funding was being provided to help pay for the upgrade, with a million of that coming from Prop. 84 grant.