Lake Cachuma may soon be a little fuller if local water districts get their way.
The Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board (COMB) has proposed a plan to make the current dam at Cachuma three feet taller so the reservoir will hold more water, a process known as surcharging. This would increase downstream flow for the endangered steelhead trout, but would also flood a marina, a boat launch ramp, parking lots, roads, picnic areas, campgrounds and trails. In order for the plan to go through, COMB must come up with $12 million in order to relocate park amenities to higher ground.
COMB consists of the city of Santa Barbara and the water districts of Montecito, Carpinteria Valley, Goleta and parts of the Santa Ynez Valley. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will review the plan later this month.
Both COMB and SWRCB have issued environmental impact reports (EIRs) to assess the impact of the plan on nearly 400 oak trees in the affected area. The EIR issued by COMB recommends planting new oak trees to replace those lost in the surcharge. The EIR issued by SWRCB says the trees cannot be replaced because it takes hundreds of years for oak trees to mature.
In its meeting Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to ask Rep. Elton Gallegly, whose district includes parts of Santa Ynez Valley, to help find funding for the project.