Water Agencies Make Play for NorCal Flow

Drought conditions persist despite the recent rains, so a coalition of four South Coast water agencies are trying to buy 6,200 acre-feet of state water that would otherwise irrigate rice fields from a district near Sacramento. The price is substantially lower than previous state water auctioned off throughout the state ​— ​about $600 an acre-foot as opposed to $2,200 ​— ​but the delivery is far more problematic, as it’s unclear whether the water will be allowed to flow through the environmentally devastated San Joaquin Delta, and if so, how much would be siphoned off as a “carriage cost.” The Montecito Water District declined to participate in the iffy deal, instead pursuing 1,000 acre-feet from a source south of the delta; the water-strapped district’s rationing measures are working, though, said manager Tom Mosby, noting that two of its three biggest water users have cut back drastically. Meanwhile, the City of Santa Barbara is evaluating applications from three engineering firms to reactivate the desalination plant, with interviews scheduled to commence next week.

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