I don’t know if we all are aware that the drought problem in CA is also changing the face of state and local agriculture. The Washington Post reported that 400,000 acres of California ag-land are not being utilized because of the drought, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.1 billion and 9,000 jobs.
Our Governor Gavin Newsom authorized the expenditure of $22.8 million on drought emergency measures, mostly to preach the gospel of conservation and without a creative solution other than conservation. In Santa Barbara, however, city residents are already using about 25 percent less water today than they were in 2013. I grew up here and I can say that as a community we have always been both grateful and resilient when it comes to honoring the environment.
Some feel that we in southern Santa Barbara County, have yet to truly understand the direness of the situation but I think many of us remember the brown lawns of the drought in the early 1990’s and we know that we are a resilient people because we have the beauty that surrounds us to keep our heads up. The City of Santa Barbara has a desalination plant, which also supplies the Montecito Water District. While Lake Cachuma is nearly half full and holding 90,000 acre-feet, sadly about 11,000 acre-feet will be lost to evaporation, and 8,200 acre-feet needs to be set aside to create habitat for the federally endangered steelhead trout.
Ultimately CA must find environmentally friendly ways to capture and keep more water and invite new technology for desalinization rather than always handing it to the consumer to suffer the outcome. We elect our State officials to manage these problems; hopefully the big picture is being considered.