SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - The water release for downstream users from Cachuma Lake to the lower Santa Ynez River is ending early. Water officials say the annual pre set allocation was released quicker than past years and the allotment is now moving all the way to Lompoc as scheduled.
The water began heading that way just over a month ago.
For some valley residents who have seen the river dry for months, the water supply has been a refreshing relief from the summer heat. Many have been seen in certain sections swimming or floating on inflatable rafts.
The level of the lake, however, is drastically down due to five years of drought and the recent release. Cachuma is shockingly low. It is now 92 percent below its holding capacity.
An update on water supplies, recent new water purchases, the state water allocation and the projections for the winter season ahead will be made to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in September.
Deputy Public Works Director Tom Fayram says the situation is unlike anything the county has seen since the Bradbury Dam was built in the 1950's. "So this is a vivid reminder of how dry we are. We all need to think about doing more now," he said. More conservation efforts will be detailed to the public in the weeks ahead.
The Santa Barbara water supply which was going to be improved by the desalination plant going on line in October has had a set back. That water will not be in the system now until late January due to construction delays.