Wealthy Montecito abuses water rules, highlights California drought problems


Goodness, you wouldn’t want to think Montecito mansion owners would follow water rules like other Californians. And too many of these arrogant rich don’t. Some are utter water pigs. They continue to use as much water as they want and pay fines instead. Plus they pump from wells and truck water in. Where is the trucked-in water coming from? No one is saying. However it’s no doubt from nearby, also drought-stricken, locations.

The top three users for Montecito in 2012/13 guzzled close to 30 million gallons alone. “That’s enough water to provide the needs of a small town.”

But conserving water is so for the little people. (Oprah is an exception, she has cut way back on water use, however she probably uses private wells and trucks water in too.) For the most part, wealthy scofflaws just pay the fines. Instead, How about continued abusers simply have their water shut off instead?

While the wealthy and arrogant are indeed a problem, there are deeper issues. California water law is a convoluted mess. The state has 440 water agencies, 12 in Santa Barbara County alone. The State Water Project sends water southward from the Sacramento Delta. Every water agency gets and must pay for their allocated share, even if they don’t get an allocation. Let me repeat that. They must pay for water even if none is delivered.

In January, the Department of Water Resources announced that there would be zero water from the state water project for the entire state. Never mind that Santa Barbara had already paid its $60 million for its 2014 annual share.

This is a broken water system.

This is probably unexpected news for Montecitoans, just now realizing what Central Valley farmers have known all along, that you have to pay into the state system the full price regardless of how much you get. Even if it’s zero. This is also true of other water districts including the giant Metropolitan Water District of SoCal which is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 19 million people in six counties.

We wonder if the people of SoCal will ever realize they pay for water they don’t get.


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