SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Chumash Casino and Hotel expansion project includes more casino floor space for restaurants, administrative offices and meeting rooms but no new slot machines.
It also includes a 12 story tower that will add more than 200 new hotel rooms bringing the total to more than 300 rooms.
Chumash Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta says the hotel and casino were already among the greenest buildings in Santa Barbara County years before the drought was declared.
"We have reduced water useage in the past ten years by over 50 percent", Armenta says adding the Tribe plans to work with local water providers for the expansion project.
"We currently contract with with the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District which is our water supplier and I believe we will continue to work with them", Armenta says, "they have several wells throughout the Santa Ynez Valley, so when we work with the ID-1 District, wherever they get their water is really where we will get ours."
"Its not clear that ID-1 will be able to provide the water to this if they are already saying they might not be able to meet demand during peak times", says valley resident Bob Field who is General Manager of the smaller, Rancho Estates Mutual Water Company.
Field says groundwater tables and wells in the valley are dropping at an alarming rate despite stringent water restrictions in place
"For our little water company we have records since 1959, we're at the lowest point we have recorded and its falling at a rate we have never seen", Field says, "the rule of thumb is wells in the valley have fallen 60 feet in the past two years and ten feet in the last several months."
Armenta says there are no plans to delay the expansion project amid the drought.
"I don't believe water will be an issue", Armenta says.