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City of Santa Maria and other communities request additional sta - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

City of Santa Maria and other communities request additional state water

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The City of Santa Maria is joining three other communities in asking for more state water.

"All of the member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority were asked, 'would you like to take advantage of this rare opportunity to acquire more of this valuable commodity?'" said Mark van de Kamp, City of Santa Maria public information officer.

The four agencies which asked for more state water were Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Solvang, and Santa Ynez Improvement District #1.

Santa Maria is asking for 10,814 acre-feet more of water per year, a 61 percent increase in supply.

Guadalupe is asking for 600 acre-feet more of water per year, a 99 percent increase.

Solvang is requesting 300 acre-feet more of water per year, an increase of 20 percent. 

Santa Ynez Improvement District #1 wants 500 acre-feet more of water per year, which would be a 71 percent increase.

The communities are thinking about the future, as extra state water would be an asset in the years to come.

The City of Santa Maria has been blending groundwater with state water since 1997 to improve water quality for residents.

"When you're washing your dishes and you see spots on it when they dry, that's a sign of hard water," van de Kamp said. "So the city has been blending state water with the well water. So we're about 50/50. It really improves the taste and the appearance of the water."

The county and the state department of water resources, or DWR, will have to renegotiate an old agreement but local officials believe it's worth it.

"It'll be almost a 28 percent increase in the contract amount we have with DWR," said Ray Stokes, executive director of Central Coast Water Authority. "So we believe there's great value in re-acquiring this water."

Santa Barbara County Flood Control and the California Department of Water Resources' agreement dates back to the 1980's. The agreement allowed the county to get up to about 57,000 acre-feet of water per year from the state. But the county only needed roughly 45,000 acre-feet, saying the original total was too much water, so the additional 12,000 acre-feet was suspended. After years of getting extensions on this agreement, the county may finally ask to re-acquire that water.

According to Stokes, the Central Coast Water Authority also has an agreement with Santa Barbara County Flood Control that would transfer over many rights and obligations.

The City of Santa Maria says it does not know how getting this state water would affect water bills, if at all, since the water hasn't been acquired yet.

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