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Wet weather replenishing groundwater in the Lompoc Valley

Posted at 10:52 PM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-28 01:52:26-05

Farmers in the Lompoc Valley dealt with some flooding over the weekend.

Water levels have dropped but the Santa Ynez River is still flowing strong.

Video shared by a viewer shows the Santa Ynez River overflowing its banks and flooding farm fields just outside of Lompoc over the weekend.

One man drove through shallow floodwater between Central Avenue and the Santa Ynez River.

Lompoc Valley farmers say there was minimal damage and say that the good far outweighs the bad.

“There’s been some destruction but we’re willing to deal with that to know that we’re going to have a good amount of water for the next couple of years,” said Jeremy Raff, Co-owner of Dare 2 Dream Farms.

High water levels are the result of water being released from Lake Cachuma which is completely full.

“Overall, it’s a great thing. We want to be able to fill up the aquifer and our groundwater,” said Kevin Merrill, manager of Mesa Vineyard in Los Alamos.

Water released into the Santa Ynez River is recharging groundwater beneath the Lompoc Valley which has been depleted by years of drought.

“Our personal water table has been getting pretty low the past couple of years,” explained Raff, who says that recent wet weather has replenished groundwater in the two wells that supply his farm.

“Our water table here is only about 35 to 40 feet and right now, it’s gone up to about 28. So, I know we’ve gotten a recharge of that,” he said.

A surge of freshwater from the Santa Ynez River is also keeping saltwater intrusion at bay.

“It’s great for permanent crops, draws the salts down. It’s just what the doctor ordered,” said Merrill.

Mother nature has also been cooperative for Santa Barbara County wineries.

Merrill says that the weather has mostly stayed cool and prevented too early of a bloom.

“We want to keep our grapes dormant. We had some warm days where it was kind of thinking of popping out, but they haven’t yet.”

Lompoc Valley farmers say they are cautiously optimistic and add that any additional rain is a bonus at this point.