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Ground-water reconnaissance of the Santa Barbara-Montecito area, Santa Barbara County, California

January 1, 1968

This is the third interpretive report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Water Agency on the groundwater resources of areas along the south coast of the county. The two previous reports--one by J. E. Upson in 1951 and another by R. E. Evenson, H. D. Wilson, Jr., and K. S. Muir--were on ground-water conditions in the Goleta and Carpinteria basins. The Santa Barbara-Montecito area is between those two basins-the Goleta basin on the west and the Carpinteria basin on the east. This area of about 30 square miles extends from the Pacific Ocean on the south to the Santa Inez Mountains on the north. The city of Santa Barbara and the towns of Montecito and Summerland are within the area.

The Santa Barbara-Montecito area is a low-lying flat section of the coastal plain. Farther inland are highlands of consolidated rock and terrace deposits. The highlands are areas of uplift, folding, and faulting, and the lowlands are structural depressions. Most of the urban development in the area has been in the lowlands. The unconsolidated deposits that have partly filled the structural depressions make up the ground-water reservoir of the Santa Barbara-Montecito area. They include the Santa Barbara Formation of Pliocene and Pleistocene age, the Casitas Formation of Pleistocene age, and the alluvium of late Pleistocene and Recent age. These deposits underlie an area of about 20 square miles
and have a maximum thickness of about 2,000 feet. The consolidated rocks of Tertiary age that underlie and form the boundaries of the ground-water reservoir contain ground water in fractures and in sandstone beds. However, the consolidated rocks are not an important source of ground water.

In 1959, a year the ground-water basins were full and ground water in storage was at a maximum, storage in the Santa Barbara area was 184,000 acre-feet, and storage in the Montecito area was 97,000 acre-feet. By 1964, in response to below-average recharge and continued withdrawal by pumping, the quantity of ground water in storage in the Santa Barbara area had decreased to 178,000 acre-feet. Because of a reduction in pumpage, there was little change in storage in the Montecito area between 1959 and 1964.

Deep percolation of rain, seepage from streams, and subsurface inflow from consolidated rocks are the main sources of recharge to the ground-water reservoir in the Santa Barbara-Montecito area. The most important discharge is by pumping.The long-term perennial yield of the ground-water reservoir of the Santa Barbara area is estimated to be 1,700-2,000 acre-feet. Present data are insufficient to accurately determine the perennial yield of the reservoir in the Montecito area, but it is estimated to be about 2,500 acre-feet.

Most ground water in the Santa Barbara-Montecito area is suitable for general use. However, ground water in some of the consolidated rocks and in the shallow unconsolidated deposits adjacent to the coast is too saline for most uses. Seawater intrusion has occurred in the Santa Barbara area and the western part of the Montecito area. The intrusion, however, is limited to the upper part of the nearshore shallow alluvial deposits and contaminates only wells which were constructed without a near-surface seal.

Publication Year 1968
Title Ground-water reconnaissance of the Santa Barbara-Montecito area, Santa Barbara County, California
DOI 10.3133/wsp1859A
Authors K. S. Muir
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water Supply Paper
Series Number 1859
Index ID wsp1859A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse