Santa Barbara City now has a partner to help restart the desalination plant.
The Montecito Water District asked the city if they could once again be a part of the facility because they are in dire need of water.
The water district opted out of the desal plant in 1997, five years after it shut down. Santa Barbara continued to maintain it, even though no water was flowing through it.
It will cost around $20 million to restart.
"Partnering with Montecito is a good neighborly thing but also good for Santa Barbara City taxpayers," said Joshua Haggmark, the acting water resources manager.
One thing Santa Barbara and Montecito need to figure out is how much each will contribute financially and when the plant could open.
"Our needs are different than the city's. The city does have a larger carry over water supplies. They don't really need the facility until, according to them, October 2016. Montecito's water condition is such that we could use the water tomorrow," said Tom Mosby, the general manager of the Montecito Water District.
Staff from both Santa Barbara and Montecito will interview three companies Tuesday. Those companies have submitted project proposals for the predesign phase of the plant.
The company chosen will help determine the size of the plant and what technology should be used. The Water Resources Department also wants to look into whether the plant can be used after the drought is over to take pressure of surface water supplies.
"It's so expensive to restart it, we are looking to see if there is a small capacity to keep it online," said Haggmark.
"We have spoken with the city. We have indicated we will participate in a percentage that is reasonable and takes into consideration of Montecito's scope of what the facility would produce," said Mosby.