Founded in 1921

By the 1920s, Montecito had grown into a town with a number of grand homes and gardens. But obtaining water was difficult from the numerous small private water providers. So in 1921 Montecito County Water District was formed in a 182 to 11 vote of the local citizens.

Montecito County Water District changed its name to "Montecito Water District" in 1979. The District was formed for the purposes of furnishing potable water within the District.

Service Area and Size

The District is located in the southern coastal portion of Santa Barbara County and includes the unincorporated communities of Montecito and Summerland. It has a population of approximately 13,100 and currently provides water to about 4,500 customers. The District assumes that the undeveloped land within its boundaries will continue to be developed and that the estimated population at build out, or the year 2020, will be approximately 15,650. Click here for an interactive District boundary map.

Right: Installing the highline pipeline from Juncal dam to the north portal of Doulton Tunnel, late 1920’s.

Water Sources

Click to view Water Sources Diagram

The District obtains its water supplies from multiple sources: Lake Cachuma, water imported through the State Water Project, supplemental purchases of water from around the state, and our own Jameson Lake, Doulton Tunnel, groundwater basin, and various creeks within our boundaries.

The District is currently evaluating the feasibility of developing its own desalination project or partnering with the City of Santa Barbara to obtain desalinated water from their facilities.

The District encompasses an area of 9,888 acres, of which approximately 6,883 acres are developed—about 98 % as residential, 2% as commercial, and approximately 849 acres are currently used for agriculture.

The District terrain is relatively steep, varying in elevation from sea level to 1,000 feet. The system is gravity-fed with a series of pressure zones controlled by pressure regulating stations, with water pumped through the South Coast conduit from Lake Cachuma, from the City of Santa Barbara, and from wells.

District’s 1924 chain-drive Mack truck delivering a boring machine to the Doulton Tunnel site (known at that time as the Toro Tunnel site).

Boring of Doulton Tunnel, circa 1925-1930. Two boring machines are attacking the rock. Tunnel shoring was installed as they moved in.

Santa Barbara News Press 1958


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