To provide flood protection and water conservation, and to promote an adequate water supply for the residents of Santa Barbara County.
Major Goals of Division:
- To protect public health and safety by maximizing flood protection.
- To conserve storm, flood and other surface waters for beneficial use.
- To maintain high level of performance.
- To provide water resource information.
The Water Resources Division comprises two separate dependent special districts: the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District ("Flood Control District") and the County Water Agency ("Water Agency"). These two special district programs were consolidated into the Water Resources Division of the Public Works Department in February 1994 as part of a Department-wide reorganization.
Both the Flood Control District and the Water Agency are dependent special districts within Santa Barbara County whose boundaries coincide with the County's boundary. The Board of Supervisors acts as the Board of Directors of each and both of their staffs comprise county employees.
The Flood Control District
The primary purpose of the Santa Barbara County Flood District is to provide flood protection and to conserve storm, flood and surface waters for beneficial public use. When the District was first created in 1955 by the State legislature in response to severe flooding and damage suffered from storms in the early 1950s, its primary charge was to implement a program of channel maintenance and capital improvements to mitigate the threat to life and property from flooding.
The District was empowered through Chapter 74 of the California Water Code to pursue various activities including the control of flood and storm waters and the conservation of such waters for beneficial use, to cooperate with other federal, state, and local agencies; and to review adequacy of drainage plans for new subdivisions within the County.
Today, the Flood Control District's major programs involve channel maintenance, design and construction of capital improvements, review of new development, and operation of a hydrological data collection/flood warning system. The Flood Control District is divided into ten active flood control zones including most of the county unincorporated area and the seven cities in the County.
The County Water Agency
The Santa Barbara County Water Agency was established by the state legislature in 1945 to control and conserve storm, flood and other surface waters for beneficial use and to enter into contracts for water supply. Today, the Water Agency is primarily involved in projects for the storage, diversion, transportation, delivery and sale of water. It prepares investigations and reports on the County's water requirements, the water needs of projected development and the efficient use of water. It provides technical assistance to other County departments, water districts, and the public concerning water availability and water well locations and design. The Water Agency also administers the Cachuma Project and the Twitchell Dam Project contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Water Agency was originally empowered under State Water Code Section 3000 et seq. to cooperate and contract with the United States and the State of California on behalf of municipalities and districts within the Agency's boundaries. It has since been empowered to also acquire property, condemn for the purpose of right-of-way, and assume indebtedness either as principle, guarantor, or underwriter.
In 1981, the Water Agency was changed from a separate County department and combined with the Flood Control and Water Conservation District. In 1989, the Water Agency was made part of the Resource Management (Planning) Department. In February 1994, the County Water Agency and the Flood Control District were combined again to form the new Water Resources Division of the Public Works Department.