City of Santa Maria Leases Excess Water to Nearby Communities

On June 20, 2017, the Santa Maria City Council approved leases of State Water Project (“SWP”) supplies to the cities of Montecito and Santa Barbara. The water was excess to Santa Maria’s needs for the 2016 water year.

According to the city’s calculations, they had 17,110 AF of SWP water available from their 2016 allocation, carryover, and banking and exchange opportunities. Staff projected that total demand for the water would be 12,100 AF, which could be met using 11,700 AF of SWP water and 400 AF of local groundwater. Of the remaining SWP water, the city marketed 5,000 AF and carried over 410 AF.

Montecito and Santa Barbara each leased 2,000 AF at a price of $225/AF and will take delivery of the water by December 31, 2017. The remaining 1,000 AF were leased to Montecito at a price of $600/AF under an earlier agreement that was executed before the initial SWP allocation was announced. The Department of Water Resources announced an initial SWP allocation of 20% in November and increased it three times in December, January, and April. The final 2016 allocation was 85%.

All three cities are located on California’s Central Coast, an area that continues to struggle with drought conditions. As of September 5, 2017, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that the region is part of the 22.12% of the state facing any level of drought and is part of the 8.21% facing moderate drought conditions. San Clemente Island, which represents 0.4% of the state, is the only area facing more severe conditions.


Written by Marta L. Weismann