The Goleta Water District formally issued its response to the latest circulation of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). In a detailed letter to the university’s administration, Eric Ford - the district’s interim General Manager - outlined several discrepancies between the school’s assessment of water resources it had available and what actually exists. Most notably, the committee formed to address the LRDP found the university’s current plans to be out of synch with the district’s 1991 SAFE ordinance, which regulates the amount of water the district keeps in reserve for drought periods.
Among the LRDP’s water use assumptions objected to by the Goleta Water Board was the university’s proposed reliance on using more recycled water to offset the use of potable water. Furthermore, Ford was clear in the letter that the district should have been included in the planning process from its inception, as water supply is so closely linked to proposed development in the area. “The Board of the Goleta Water District encourages the university to work cooperatively with the District in the future to make the most efficient and productive use of the community’s limited water supplies,” the letter concluded.
“I think things have changed, so the water figures they were using were out of date and they made some misinterpretations of Goleta Water District Ordinances,” said Lauren Hanson, chair of the board’s UCSB Relations Committee.
The comment period for the Recirculated DEIR ends on Monday, March 30, and letters from other agencies - namely the City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County, the Metropolitan Transit District, and the Central Coast Water Authority - are expected to come in over the weekend if they haven’t been received already. UCSB will take some time to respond to comments, but it is not yet clear when the next action on the LRDP will take place. “We all want the university to succeed in being an academic leader and a leader in sustainability while being a responsible neighbor to the rest of the community,” said Hanson. “That’s why [the District] took care to write such detailed comments. We’re looking forward to working with them.”