Santa Barbara- S County

Hope Ranch Landmark Victim Of Drought

Lake Expected To Dry Up In A Matter Of Weeks

Lake in Hope Ranch Drying Up

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara locals have a new bellwether when it comes to understanding the severity of our drought.

Cachuma Lake is considered California's poster child when it comes to the state's water crisis, but for local residents, there is another body of water we look to.

Most of us know it as the lagoon or lake in Hope Ranch. But its real name is Laguna Blanca or White Lake.

"We expect the lake to be fully dry in another two to three weeks," Tom Pickett told NewsChannel 3.

The lake's name dates back to the Spaniards, when they came upon the same lakebed crust showing today -- drought white.

Oh, and by the way, it's not really a lake.

"It's called a vernal pond," Wayne Mills explained. "It's a body of water that has no inlet or outlet and it goes dry in the natural cycles."

Mills, superintendent of the golf course at the La Cumbre Country Club, said the pond has dried out in the past. During the seventies and eighties, two to three feet of water was lost to evaporation. This time, with a lack of rain over the past three years, there's not much water left.

But something else you can't see is lingering; For weeks locals complained about a stench. If you look hard, and they're difficult to see, you'll spot fish carcasses covering the floor of the pond. Look up to the sky and you'll see buzzards circling above, flying in for their daily meal.

"We've had bald eagles come in," said Mills. "Forty to fifty blue herons, egrets feeding, buzzards, nature doing its thing."

Mills said fishing isn't allowed and the pond wasn't stocked, but over the years the landmark became home to thousands of carp, most likely dumped over time.

"How they got there, we're not really sure," Mills said.

In the meantime, some suggest working the land while it's dry.

"We're talking about eventually putting in a foot bridge from the T-box to the island green," said Pickett. "We're also talking about maybe reshaping the lake a little bit, making it deeper and narrower."

That would minimize the amount of water needed when the rains come, and when the next drought cycle moves in.

For now, it's an eyesore in an oasis.

"It's a constant reminder for all of us to be careful about conserving water," said Pickett.

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