A historically important election takes place this November for the majority of the Goleta Water Board. I have been involved in local water professionally for over 20 years, and I served on the City of Santa Barbara Water Commission for over eight years.
In addition to everything else the Goleta Water Board does, in the next four-year term its members will have a significant role to play in the upcoming Cachuma Contract Renewal that is scheduled to be completed in 2020; it will establish how Goleta’s water supply will be managed for the next 25 years. In deciding who to vote onto your Water Board, I ask that you do a little of your own research.
Look at your water bill, compare it to what it was five years ago. Look at the state of Goleta’s current water supply — it is not only the product of the drought, but also numerous water supply planning decisions made by the board over the past five years, many of those decisions, terrible mistakes, like not taking a reduction in Cachuma annual deliveries earlier and more aggressively.
Ask what Goleta’s firm, committed, and financed plans are to supplement our water supply, and how long will that take? Ask what professional hydrogeologists think about how long Goleta can continue to produce groundwater at the current rate, and where is that information available to the public?
When the California Coastal Commission was preparing to consider final approval for the UCSB 2010 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) in 2014, and water was a major focus of that hearing, why didn’t the Goleta Water Board have even one board meeting with an agenda item on the LRDP, UCSB, or anything related? There hasn’t been an agenda item for the LRDP in over five years. Why? How is UCSB paying for the water supply for the new development approved in the 2010 LRDP? When did the board approve that?
Ask how much total water supply Goleta is committed to serve for new development that is not yet online, including, but certainly not limited to, the 1,000 acre-feet per year for the 2010 UCSB LRDP. After the 2020 Cachuma Contract Renewal, how much total potable water supply will Goleta have left?
Goleta has two rock-solid, highly qualified citizens offering to serve anew on Goleta’s Water District Board of Directors. When a community is presented with that opportunity, change can be a very good thing. We do not have to discount the contribution to public service by the incumbents to support the election of Bob Geis and Jean Blois, who each have long histories of public service to our community.
Jean Blois has been on the Goleta School Board, was a longtime Goleta Water Board Member, and chaired the Cachuma Project Authority that led our efforts in the first Cachuma Contract Renewal.
Bob Geis recently retired as the often-elected County Auditor-Controller for the last 25 years. He has earned the public’s trust through his extended, successful career. He has provided financial expertise to the Goleta Water District and multiple agencies involved with the Cachuma Project.
Often in the past the Goleta Board race has pitted pro-development candidates against no-growth advocates. This time, Bob Geis and Jean Blois are certainly not against reasonable growth within our means, including water. The incumbents on the other hand represent the most pro-development Goleta Board since the ‘60s. Look what happened to Goleta in the early ‘70s as a result of those ‘60s policies: a chronic water shortage that lasted 25 years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to address. Here we go again!
The people who live in Goleta who have seen all the changes know we must value Goleta agriculture and the quality of life that has survived. Every established Goleta ag family I know is supporting Bob Geis and Jean Blois, and none of them are supporting the incumbents. Why? The history of Goleta has borne out the fact that where ag disappears, development takes its place.
If you care about preserving Goleta agriculture and our existing quality of life, please vote for Bob Geis and Jean Blois.
A forum for the candidates to the Goleta Water District’s Board of Directors takes place Tuesday, October 11 at noon at the High Sierra Grill, 521 Firestone Road (formerly the Elephant Bar). The $25 fee includes lunch. See the chamber’s website for more information.