Drought Raises Concern Over Local Trout Protection

Steelhead protected under Federal Endangered Species Act.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Ask just about anyone on the Central Coast and water conservation and the ongoing drought are very much on their minds.

"Making sure you do a full load of laundry when you do laundry and don't let the water run at the kitchen sink or bathroom", one woman told Central Coast News outside a shopping center in Santa Maria.

But attitudes change when it comes to using the precious local water supply to save the the endangered Steelhead Trout.

Critics of the ongoing water diversion say its putting fish before people.

"I think we need to share, but I think the people come before the fish", another woman tells Central Coast News.

"I would put people before the fish", says Santa Barbara County Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam who is leading a call on the Board of Supervisors for more information about the Steelhead Trout fishery protection program..

Adam says Lake Cachuma, where water is released every day to protect the trout, is the main reservoir for drought-stricken communities in southern Santa Barbara County.

"I don't know if its true or not but I'm told that there's 21 fish for which we are spending what I think is pretty reliable information that we're spending ten acre feet a day to keep them alive", Adam tells Central Coast News.

"I know that if you don't have the right amount of oxygen in the water that the fish cannot survive", Adam says, "even if there's 21 fish in the hole, even if there's 210 fish in the hole, you're spending that ten acre feet which is almost what it takes to keep the south coast in water, there's 150,000 people down there on the south coast that depend on that water supply."

A controversial issue when water is in such precious supply in Santa Barbara County.

"I don't think its necessary", a north county resident tells Central Coast News, "we need a little bit more than the fish do I think, we're desperate."


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