SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - With our drought levels now at moderate as opposed to severe in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, after the big storm, how did all this rain affect our reservoirs?
Drying out and analyzing data, we now know that rain rates were higher in the back country. Seven inches accumulated at the Gibraltar Reservoir over the past three days.
The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management says Jameson, Gibraltar and Cachuma all received "a lot more water."
“Gibraltar filled and spilled this morning, at 9:30 [a.m.] it started spilling,” said Rebecca Bjork, City of Santa Barbara Public Works Director.
The last time that happened was back in 2017.
“Gibraltar for the city is really a one year supply at this point and time so it buys us a year which is great but it certainly doesn’t get us out of the drought. We really need Cachuma to fill for that to happen,” said Bjork.
Bjork says Gibraltar spilling is a big deal but it’s just not a long term deal. Data shows that Cachuma is up four feet.
“50% of the water that goes into Cachuma goes through Gibraltar Reservoir so thats good news not only for Gibraltar and for the city’s customers but also for Cachuma Reservoir and all of the county that it serves,” said Bjork.
Officials say this latest storm system brought Gibraltar Dam about four tenths of the city’s water supply for the year and reservoir levels will be determined by additional rainfall as 2019 progresses.
“We’re still in a drought, it’s great to be getting this rain and we’re continuing to hope that maybe this will be the year that fills Cachuma,” said Bjork.
With new rainfall totals, Cachuma Lake is now 35% full. The last time it spilled was back in 2011.