The people of Santa Barbara need to know the real story behind the recent lawsuit filed against them by the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA). This agency, made up of appointed members of the various water agencies of the county who manage the State Water Project (SWP), has sued the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors because the board voted to allow them to buy water when needed, but not sell water to any entity outside the county.
Why would Santa Barbara sell any water at this time of drought when the water it has ordered from the State Water Project has very seldom been delivered at the full contracted amount. The state has only delivered 28 percent of what it promised when the project came on line in 1998. Knowing the years of water shortages we have experienced, if we have any extra water, why would we want to sell it outside our county?
We think the answer lies in the recent commodity marketing of water as a profit-making venture. And we believe that CCWA seeks profit and power as suggested by the agency’s recent request to wrest total control of the State Water Project from the County Board of Supervisors.
The State Department of Water Resources and the county are signatories to the State Water Contract, and while the Board of Supervisors has a Memorandum of Understanding allowing CCWA to manage that water, it has not given up its authority to being the final arbiter of how that contract is amended. This is important because in the event of payment default by SWP contractors, the county has the taxing authority to avoid bankruptcy. CCWA would very much like the county to disappear from the SWP picture.
Water is the life blood of our county. We need it for our life and for our livelihoods, as well as sustenance for our environment. The Board of Supervisors should be encouraged to fight this lawsuit with all its might.