Water Issues in the Santa Ynez Valley
How Are Groundwater Issues Being Addressed in the Santa Ynez Valley?
Please join the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society and WE Watch, co-sponsors of a Zoom presentation by Bill Buelow of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District (SYRWCD) on Thursday, July 8th at 7:00PM. on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Mr. Buelow will discuss the three Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) that are currently being developed for the Santa Ynez Basin and will be submitted to the State in January 2022 – only 7 months from now.
How we in the Santa Ynez Valley share and manage our limited groundwater sources in the future is probably the most important issue facing us locally.
You are invited to this free online presentation, but you will need to pre-register as the sponsor’s Zoom account is limited to the first 100 registrants. You can register at the link below:
Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar on July 8. There will be able a question-and-answer period immediately following Mr. Buelow’s presentation.
Mr. Buelow is the Groundwater Program Manager at the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District (SYRWCD), a California special district established in 1939 to protect water rights in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys. The SYRWCD should not be confused with SYRWCD-Improvement District No.1 (ID-No.1) which is a water purveyor in the Santa Ynez-Solvang-Los Olivos area. SYRWCD’s mission is to protect water rights and conserve and augment the District’s water supplies in an environmentally responsible manner for residential, agricultural and commercial uses.
Questions to be answered: What is the actual status of groundwater supplies in the Santa Ynez Valley? What issues need to be addressed? What can be done to manage this precious resource?
Anyone wishing to learn more about SGMA and the local groundwater planning effort can find helpful information at a dedicated website for SGMA in the Santa Ynez Basin at www.santaynezwater.org , as well as the State’s SGMA webpage at https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/SGMA-Groundwater-Management.
I. WE Watch Involvement in Local Water Issues
We Watch formed a Water Issues Group (WIG) in 2017 to stay informed, track, and provide recommendations where appropriate on water management issues affecting the Santa Ynez Valley. WIG members monitor monthly meetings of local water agencies, meet with agency personnel to stay abreast of their plans, meet and discuss among ourselves which actions merit our involvement, and where necessary, provide public forums and recommendations aimed at sustainability and effective management of our local water resources. Our recommendations, where made, are documented with formal letters to agency personnel describing our reasons for the recommendations.
The following agencies are being monitored by WE Watch WIG members:
• Buellton Public Works Department (Buellton PWD)
• Cachuma Operations & Maintenance Board (COMB)
• Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (CCRWQCB)
• Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA)
• Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors (BOS)
• Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District (SYRWCD)
• Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District No.1 (ID No.1)
• Santa Ynez Community Services District (SYCSD)
• Solvang Public Works Department (Solvang PWD)
The We Watch Water Issues Group has been involved in the following educational and political items related to local water:
• Water District Elections Forum, September 2018. We Watch hosted a public forum that included each of the individuals running for positions on ID No 1 Board. The following is local news coverage of the September forum as well as information on other current local election happenings:
• Water Supply Issues. In August 2019, WE Watch communicated in writing with members and the general public regarding water supply issues in the Santa Ynez Valley.
> Opinion article published on page 7 of the Santa Ynez Valley Star on 8/5/19. SYVStar Aug 2019, page 7
WE Watch Newsletter article on water issues (August 2019); click here to open document
• State Water Project’s Delta Conveyance Project (DCP)
o Press release issued 9/23/19; click here to open document
WE Watch letter sent to local water agencies recommending they “Opt Out” of the DCP click here to open document
• Noozhawk article on DCP, Noozhawk Agencies Say No 10-25-2019
• Assignment of State Water Project Contract in Santa Barbara County
Since CA’s DWR began to provide State Water Project water in Santa Barbara County in the 1990’s, the County’s Flood Control and Water Conservation District has been DWR’s SWP contract holder. The County’s role is primarily as a guarantor that DWR will be paid if a Central Coast Water Authority member fails to meet its fiduciary responsibilities for the SWP. CCWA handles all other aspects of SWP water provision within the County. CCWA members have now proposed that DWR assign the SWP contract to CCWA rather than to SB County. We Watch believes the contract should remain with SB County for reasons which are explained in the WE Watch position statement on this issue.
We Watch has detailed its opposition to assigning the SWP contract to CCWA in a letter to each County Supervisor. We are waiting for the County Supervisors’ responses to this request.
• Letter to Board of Supervisors click to open April 2020 letter to County BOS
WE Watch Position Statement sent to County BOS: click here to open document;
• Copy of Noozhawk article, November 16, 2019:
II. Water in the Santa Ynez Valley
The WE Watch Water Issues Group (WIG) has drafted the attached summary of water issues in the Santa Ynez Valley. This summary document is intended to help educate WE Watch members and other Valley residents on issues related primarily to water supplies in the Valley and to a more limited extent on wastewater and water quality issues. Topics are organized as follows:
• Surface Water
• Santa Ynez River Flow and Underflow
• Ground Water
• Imported Water from the State Water Project
• Wastewater and Stormwater Management
• Water Conservation, Water Quality, and Desalination
This document begins with an index and a list of acronyms. Throughout the document there are links to more detailed information on various water agencies’ websites.
Click here to open document “Water Issues in the Santa Ynez Valley”.