Saturday, February 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 15th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 32

Well drilling in Santa Barbara County has tripled during the drought


In a normal, non-drought water year, Santa Barbara County gets 50 or so applications for new well drilling permits. In the first quarter of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Santa Barbara County has already received 28 well permit applications, which puts the county on track for about 120 or so new wells for the year.

In 2013-2014, the county received 165 applications, and all of the well permit applications have been or are related to the drought, according to Larry Fay of the county’s Environmental Health Services. He spoke at the Oct. 14 county Board of Supervisors meeting, giving a well permit applications update as part of a presentation on the county’s water situation.

He said the majority of those applications have been in Montecito and Carpinteria, an area that normally gets nine or 10 applications a year, but got 80 applications during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

“That’s where our big jump is,” he said.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf questioned Fay about the county’s process and how the county monitors or enforces water use after the well is drilled.

“We have no mechanism for enforcing that or monitoring it after the well is drilled,” Fay said.

Wolf continued her line of questioning, saying that the county should have a way to ensure that people aren’t pulling more than they should out of groundwater basins: “Do we have any recourse?”

“As of now, no. We don’t really regulate use of the well, we just regulate construction,” Fay said.

At that point, Michael Ghizzoni, county counsel, chimed in to add: “They’re not in the volume business, just the safety business.”

The state recently passed a set of regulations designed to put monitoring measures in place, but they won’t go into effect for a number of years.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said that in this time of drought, when water is in such high demand, it seems like the county isn’t doing its part to make sure people aren’t using more water than they should.

“It seems like we’re not being helpful, or at least, we don’t have the tools or the authority,” Farr said.

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