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Storms Bringing Needed Rain To Central, South Coasts But Still Not Enough To End Drought Impacts


We’ve had some impressive amounts of rainfall this water year, and the good news is that it’s come with only minimal flooding, and debris flow problems in brush fire burn zones. Many Central and South Coast communities have already reached 75% to 90% of their average annual water year rainfall. But, water experts say we are still a long way from breaking the drought cycle.

Tom Fayram is Santa Barbara County’s Deputy Public Works Director. Fayram says despite the makings of what appears to be a solid rainfall year, one good year isn’t enough to be a drought buster. Some of the region’s key reservoirs and groundwater basins are still at low levels after years of drought conditions.

Lake Cachuma is at 51% of capacity. And despite all the rain this water year, Lake Casitas is only a little over a third full, at 36% of capacity. The last time it was full enough for water to go over the Casitas Dam spillway was 1998. And, groundwater supplies could take several years of significant rain to recover after being drawn down for years by the drought.

Kelly Dyer is the City of Santa Barbara’s Water Supply Manager. She says when there’s rain in the forecast, it’s hard to get people thinking about water conservation. But, she says one easy thing you can do which also saves you money is to turn off your automatic irrigation systems for landscaping.

Still, some of the seasonal rainfall totals so far this year are impressive. As of Wednesday morning, Lompoc has had 13.9 inches of rain this point in the rainfall season, which is 165% of average. Goleta is at 16.5 inches of rainfall. That’s 150% of average for this date in the season. And, Carpinteria has had 12 inches of rainfall, 177% of average for this date.

In Ventura County, Oxnard has had 12.2” of rain this season, which is 85% of the seasonal average. Thousand Oaks had had 11.5”, 73% of the season average for this date. And, Fillmore’s 19” of rain to date means that city has already topped its annual average, even if it doesn’t get another drop. It’s at 103% of its seasonal average.

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