Water Resources Deputy Director
Water in California is an issue of irony. At times it is dreaded for its over abundance, and yet at other times, it is cherished due to its scarcity. Santa Barbara County has suffered through both flood and drought, often within close proximity.
Not that long ago, Santa Barbara County was wading out of some of the worse flood events in modern times. 1995 brought the single highest daily rainfall totals, and 1998 brought the record annual rainfall accumulation.
However, few recall that just before the flood years of 1995 and 1998, we were in a dire drought emergency. In fact, at less than 7 inches of total annual rainfall, only one other year had a lower annual rainfall total than 1990 water year. Interestingly, Santa Barbara received more rainfall on January 10, 1995, than in the entire 1990 rain year. With Gibraltar Reservoir empty, and Cachuma Lake so low that pumps were needed to supply water to the Tecolote Tunnel, mandatory conservation practices were implemented. It was not until the 1991 "Miracle March" that the water crunch was eased. Yet few at the time realized that "Miracle March" was setting the stage for the wettest decade on record.
Knowing that our climate provides us with an array of extremes, our charge is to plan for droughts while Cachuma is full, and prepare for floods in the heat of summer. As we enter the next century, our challenge is to provide our community with flood protection and plan for a stable water supply.
If you would like more information on any of our programs please e-mail me.
Tom Fayram, Water Resources Deputy Director
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Last updated: July 26, 2006