With California entering its fifth year of drought on October 1, rainfall totals remain the driest in the state’s recorded history. Even with a strengthening El Niño seemingly ramping up the likelihood of a very wet winter — perhaps even rivaling 1997-98’s record-setting deluge — the city’s water team on Tuesday reiterated the boon of its free low-flow showerhead exchange and toilet-leak test kit. So far, residents’ efforts have helped reduce demand by 33 percent in September alone, eclipsing the city’s target goal of 25 percent.
Such conservation efforts bode well in light of the unreliable rainfall predictions for the coming three months. While this winter promises to be warmer than usual, city water-supply manager Kelley Dyer said that, according to National Weather Service forecasts, the chances of below-normal, normal, and above-normal rainfall are equal. Meanwhile, on October 12, Cachuma Reservoir checked in at a lowly 16.7 percent of capacity. “We are approaching lake levels never seen before,” Dyer told councilmembers.
In related news, the Montecito Water District’s retiring General Manager Tom Mosby is anticipating Santa Barbara’s terms of agreement concerning future deliveries from the city’s long-mothballed desalination plant, slated to be in production in September of next year. Mosby added that several dozen applicants are vying for his position, and he’ll likely continue with the district until his replacement is trained. The application period ends next week.