Proposed state water project could increase local water bills

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - ​Two 35 mile long tunnels could be installed to divert water from the Sacramento river to cities across the southern portion of the state including Santa Maria.

This means on a regular basis, more state water would be available.

"On the opposite side of that coin, the costs of that same project would be born by state water contractors including the residents and businesses of Santa Maria," explains Shad Springer, Director of Utilities for the city of Santa Maria. 

The price tag of this proposed project is nearly $16 billion. 

That's a big deal for people like the city's Parks and Recreation Department, who use about 26 percent of the city's water.

Alex Posada, the Director of the Parks and Rec Department says any increase would majorly impact them as they get charged more for using the state's water since they don't use it for regular consumption.

Instead, they use water for landscaping the nearly 400 acres of public lands they over see.

Before the tunnel project gets the green light however, water districts across the state would have to sign on to agree to pay for it and so far none of them have stepped up.

"It's also a balance between state and federal players - and at this time it hasn't been decided what that share would be so it'd be too early to speculate on what the costs would be to the city of Santa Maria," Springer says.

He adds going off of the state's water completely to avoid any sort of increase is off the table for now, as Santa Maria's groundwater has water quality issues.

"It's not a question of safety, the water that we provide even the groundwater we provide meets all drinking standards - it's more of a question of hardness so that residents may not have to use water softeners and things of that nature," Springer says. 

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