Another year of drought means we’re all once again being asked to conserve.

But, it’s not as easy for farmers on the Central and South Coasts, who need to use groundwater to supplement scarce rainfall. In Ventura County, hundreds of farmers are taking part in a unique water market program.

Even with a winter season that had a major storm event, Santa Barbara is not making enough of a water comeback from the drought conditions to report a solid supply.

The city says it is working from a 10-year drought emergency plan using a water shortage timeline that began seven years ago in 2011.

Photo by David Grannis

A documentary on California’s historic drought produced by a South Coast college professor and his students will be screened this week.

The film “Turf Wars: SoCal Water Conservation” takes a deep look into the state’s severe drought and its impacts.  It was created by a film professor and his two students at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. 

Karie Portillo Guerra, who was a student when she helped create the film, says it was eye-opening to see the devastation in Central Valley towns that had pumped their groundwater dry.

Despite California's rainy winter season, the city of Santa Barbara is planning water agreements and policies in case the drought is not over.

This area of the state was one of the last to remain in drought conditions, even though it's doing much better now than it was a year ago.

The drought has led to the creation of a unique type of water exchange on the South Coast which may ultimately encourage conservation,

It’s a water market, which will allow farmers, and potentially other water users in parts of Ventura County to buy and sell groundwater.

A water conservation district on the South Coast is taking advantage of Northern California’s heavy rainfall this season to lock up some state water project water.

The United Water Conservation District reached a deal to buy a guaranteed 5,000 acre feet of water, and to get another 5,000 acre feet if available. The water would be used to recharge the District’s water basins in Western Ventura County and the Santa Clara River Valley.

For the first time in nearly a decade, a hydroelectric power plant on the South Coast is generating electricity.

Thanks to recent rainfall, water flowing through Gibraltar Reservoir is not only helping to meet the City of Santa Barbara’s water needs, it’s creating electricity.

A creek which flows into drought stricken Lake Casitas is full, sending a torrent of water into the important water source for part of Ventura County.

While the flow of water is impressive, as you head to the lake itself, it’s shocking to see how much it’s shrunk. It’s down by more than 60%.

Ron Merckling, with the Casitas Municipal Water District, says that while drought conditions have eased for most of the state, the crisis continues for much of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. He says Lake Casitas, Lake Cachuma, and Lake Piru have seen little relief from the drought.

The Gibraltar Dam behind Santa Barbara has reached its limit and is full after the intense storms that passed through in the last week.

A month ago, it was at an unusable level.

After 5 years of drought,  the residents of La Conchita are seeing more rain than the area has soaked up in a long time.

La Conchita, which is off of Highway 101 south of Carpinteria, had major landslides in 1995 and 2005.

Ten people died in the 2005 slide.

Many campers, residents and workers in the Paradise Road stretch of the Santa Ynez Valley are buzzing over the new flow of water in the Santa Ynez River.

Several crossings are closed to people and vehicles, as the river comes alive with more than eight days of rain this month.

A desalination plant in Santa Barbara originally estimated to cost $55 million dollars is facing new financial issues.

The city will hear a report Tuesday from water officials, who say approximately $10 million more will be needed.

The total project cost could near $70 million.

Even once it rains, drought-related issues will not be going away any time soon.

That was the conclusion that state water resources officials and emergency leaders came to in Santa Barbara on Monday.

The drought has prompted one South Coast City to adopt a total ban on lawn watering.

Santa Barbara residents will have to turn off their lawn sprinklers, and keep them off starting January first. There are some exceptions for things like trees, gardens, and shrubs, as well as for what are known as water-wise grasses. Fields used for recreation are exempted, as are golf greens.

City officials say even though they’ve obtained more state water, Santa Barbara no longer has reserves or a buffer next year, so further cuts in consumption are essential.

Santa Barbara's planned desalination plant has moved into the final phase of construction, which will involve offshore work.

On the beach, long stretches of green fence encircle the work areas and block off the heavy equipment.