Dale Francisco, until recently the reigning conservative kingpin of the Santa Barbara City Council, was just appointed interim director of the Cachuma Conservation and Release Board (CCRB), one of several small, obscure, but pivotal bureaucracies bird-dogging the rights of water districts drawing supplies from Lake Cachuma, the single biggest water source for 200,000 customers.
Francisco — who was just termed out after serving eight years on the council — represented City Hall’s interest on multiple other water entities endowed with equally obscure acronyms, including the one responsible for state water deliveries and another responsible for monitoring and maintain supplies at Lake Cachuma. Even so, the appointment of Francisco — now head of the county’s Republican Central Committee — elicited grumblings from some water watchdogs and others who’ve crossed political swords with him in the past.
Montecito water boardmember Dan Morgan — who also sits on the CCRB — called Francisco’s appointment a “win-win” because of Francisco’s familiarity with the local players and the issues. By contrast, the director Francisco succeeds is an Orange County attorney who specialized in water rights. In months ahead, Francisco and the CCRB board will confront several potentially momentous issues: a new biological opinion decreeing how much water — probably more — needs to be set aside for steelhead recovery and a revised agreement detailing which South Coast agencies hold which water rights to water from the dam.