Water Rights

“Thar She Flows,” describing the runoff into Cachuma Lake, was a very pleasant read in your January 26 issue until I got halfway through the second paragraph where the mandatory release of water down the Santa Ynez River was described as byzantine. No longer was this a news article; it now belonged on the opinion page.

Prior to the building of the Gibraltar Reservoir Dam, the Santa Ynez watershed was one of the finest fishing locations in the whole state, supporting a huge wildlife habitat while the very beautiful, very desirable south coast had very limited water resources which could only support small populations. It is a semi-desert next to the ocean.

Developers, eyeing our northern watershed, decided lots of money could be made by building the dam, so they negotiated the current agreement that guarantees that the 40,000 plus people who now live downstream from the dam always have enough water (replenishing our groundwater because most of the time there is no river).

I’m sorry that we have experienced a five-year drought, squeezing your water supply, but a deal is a deal! If you wish to renegotiate the agreement, then we should first start from scratch by eliminating the dam and restoring the watershed to its original condition. Or maybe if the South County is going to become a water bully, then those of us who live in the north should resurrect the Mission County proposal. As expensive as this idea is it would be a lot cheaper than to lose our water rights.


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