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Water will soon be released into the Santa Ynez River from Cachuma Lake in response to the continued drought in the Santa Ynez watershed.

A Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District spokesman said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will start releasing water from Bradbury Dam at 8 a.m. Monday and continue for about three months.

A total of about 10,000 acre-feet of water is expected to be released. An acre-foot is roughly 326,000 gallons, or enough to meet the average yearly water needs of about six people in most urban settings.

The combination of South Coast water use and the water rights release will reduce the water level in the reservoir to approximately 58,000 acre-feet by the end of October, the spokesman said.

The reservoir is now holding 72,429 acre-feet, or about 37.5 percent of its 193,305 acre-foot capacity.

Although the lake level will be lower, facilities at Cachuma County Park, including the boat ramps, will remain in full operation, the spokesman said.

Water released at about 180 cubic feet per second, or 360 acre-feet per day, will be confined to the “low flow” channel of the river as it moves downstream.

The flow may impede traffic on low-river crossings, and drivers were advised to use caution near moving water, the spokesman said.

The Water Conservation District called for the release to recharge groundwater basins along the Santa Ynez River downstream of the dam as far as the Lompoc Valley.

The groundwater basins provide an essential source of water for cities, towns and farming interests along the river, the spokesman said.

The release is consistent with state water rights orders as well as agreements among South Coast and downstream users who store water in Cachuma Lake.

It will not impact water deliveries to the South Coast and has been coordinated with the Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board, the spokesman said.

Water for the South Coast is released to the Tecolote Tunnel through the Santa Ynez Mountains; water for areas along the river is released from outlet works at the dam.

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This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, news editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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