If you have any questions on this project, please contact:
City of Santa Barbara Water Supply
P.O. Box 1990
Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Lincolnwood Water Project
The process to transition the Lincolnwood Mutual Water Company (LMWC) system to the City of Santa Barbara water system began in September 2022 with a closing date of December 14, 2022 to bring high quality, reliable water to Lincolnwood residents. Since March 2021, the City has been coordinating closely with LMWC representatives and our contractor, Lash Construction, to understand the current LMWC water system, develop a streamlined plan to minimize disruptions during construction, and plan and prepare the system for the transition.
Understanding your water use. As a Santa Barbara water customer, your water use will be measured through your new meter and you will receive charges for water use on your monthly City utility bill per City water rates. Following installation of your new meter and prior to issuing your first bill, we will read your water meter and conduct a sample billing showing an estimate of a full month’s water use and the corresponding bill based on City water rates. The sample bill will be for a time period when you are still connected to the LMWC system (not City water). This will be a “test run” to help you understand how much water you’re using and make adjustments, if needed, prior to receiving your first real water bill, which we anticipate will be in February 2023. Understanding how you use water is important for a number of reasons.
- On average, the City’s residential water customers use 9 HCF a month. You may find that you are using more than average, which could indicate you have a leak, inefficient irrigation scheduling, or your irrigation controller is malfunctioning. City water customers are encouraged to get a free Water Checkup with City staff to assess water usage on your property and identify ways to save water and money on water bills.
- Outside irrigation is the largest component of residential water use, and on average, 50% of that usage is lost to evaporation, runoff, and inefficient scheduling. There are a number of steps you can take to help minimize outdoor use, conserve water, and lower your bill.
- Your water use also impacts your sewer bill. Because the City has not had water usage information to bill Lincolnwood customers volumetrically for sewer service, City sewer bills have been set at the maximum residential sewer bill, currently $59.78/month. Now, with water use data available, you may be able to lower the sewer portion of your bill – our Water Conservation staff will be happy to review your usage and help identify money-saving steps.
Understanding your water quality. Providing safe water and protecting public health remains our top priority. Our laboratory staff regularly perform rigorous testing to ensure our water meets all state and federal requirements. Each year, you will receive a detailed water quality report, and our lab staff are available to answer any water quality questions you may have. You can reach them at 805-568-1008.
The City will be installing new City water meters for all Lincolnwood residents. The default meter size is 5/8”. This is the most common meter size in the City’s service area and also comes with the lowest monthly rate. The City does not anticipate the reduction from Lincolnwood’s existing 1” meters to a 5/8” meter will have impacts to your indoor water pressure. Meter sizing primarily impacts high-flow instantaneous demand, such as fire sprinklers or high-flow irrigation systems. Here are some items to consider with your meter sizing:
- If your property has a home fire suppression system (fire sprinklers) please consult with your fire sprinkler contractor to determine what meter size is appropriate for your system.
- For properties with irrigation systems with nine or more high flow (2+ gallons per minute) pop-up sprinkler head nozzles on a single zone, consider replacing those sprinkler heads with more efficient sprinkler head nozzles (0.5 – 1.0 gallons per minute), or split that high flow zone into two zones. Alternatively, you may consider a larger meter size.
- You are always welcome to consult with a plumber about your private plumbing system and meter sizing concerns. The technical meter specifications with flow rates can be shared with your contractor/plumbing professional. The City uses models M25, M35, and M55 on that document.
There are options to change your meter sizing after it is installed, if needed:
- If a 5/8” water meter is installed and afterward you decide to upsize your meter, you will be charged an installation fee of approximately $400 to upsize the meter. You have one year (until September 30, 2023) to request to upsize your meter without having to pay capacity charges. After that date, you will have to pay both installation fees and capacity charges effective at the time of the size change request. These fees are currently around $22,000 for a 1” meter and will likely increase over time.
- If after meter installation you determine that you would like to reduce your meter size, you will need to pay the fee associated with meter reductions in effect at the time of the reduction request. Those fees are currently approximately $400. There are no capacity charges associated with meter size reductions.
Your existing LMWC water meter will be left in place. If you prefer, you can have your LMWC water meter removed at your own expense. Please see the diagram of the metering configuration with your existing meter and new City meter.
Monthly Service Charges
Your water bill will be composed of two components, (1) volumetric charges based on water usage, and (2) a fixed monthly service charge that scales based on meter size. The fixed monthly service charges currently in effect are below.
|Meter Size||Current Monthly Charge|
The transition process will involve making three connections to the City’s water main on Hope Avenue, and installing 61 City water meters in the public right-of-way to serve each property. The City will also be replacing water main valves at each neighborhood intersection to improve system control and reliability.
- Beginning in September, you will see you will see spray painted underground utility markings in the street to ensure construction avoids interference with other utilities.
- Next, neighborhood water main valves will be replaced in the intersections by a combination of Lash Construction and City crews. A neighborhood-wide water service shutdown will occur, see the Water Service Shutdowns section below for more information.
- Then, our crews will work in blocks, installing new City water meters in the sidewalk in front of each property per City standards. We expect meter installation for each block to take approximately one week to complete. During this period, one side of the sidewalk will be inaccessible and parking will be restricted along that sidewalk during work hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday). “No Parking” signs will be posted 72 hours in advance, helping to remind you that work will be underway, and traffic controls will be in place to ensure there is property access and pedestrian safety. Two water service shutdowns per block will occur, see the Water Service Shutdowns section below for more information.
- Once all the work has been completed, City water will begin flowing to all of Lincolnwood simultaneously, and your metered water use will start to be recorded.
Water Service Shutdowns
Water service will remain active during the majority of the project. However, there will be three planned shutdowns when water service will be unavailable for up to 8 hours. We will provide 48 hour advance notification of any planned water service shutdowns via email (if provided) and door hangers.
- The water main valves in the Lincolnwood system are due for replacement. Replacing the valves will require a system-wide water shutdown in late-September, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Replacing all the valves in one shutdown will minimize the number of shutdowns.
- Following the system-wide shutdown, two more water shutdowns will occur for each block and will last one full workday for meter installations, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You will receive a door hanger notification for the specific day of each shutdown 48 hours in advance.
After the shutdowns, crews will do their best to flush the water system. However, you may experience temporary discolored or cloudy water. This is easily resolved by using an outside hose bib to run water for 10 to 15 seconds, turn the water off for a few minutes, and repeat the process until water runs clear. Run the cold-water faucets inside your home using this same process until the water runs clear.
One of Lincolnwood Mutual Water Company's (LMWC) two wells failed due to nitrate contamination and LMWC received a letter from the County Department of Public Health in 2018 urging LMWC to secure a backup supply. An existing 1979 agreement between the City and LMWC provides the City with the option to assume ownership of Lincolnwood’s water system and infrastructure, and have the Lincolnwood neighborhood become City water customers. After over a year of discussions between the City and LMWC representatives, LMWC shareholders voted to connect to the City's water system. City staff presented the preferred path of the LMWC shareholders to the Water Commission on February 18, 2021 who agreed with the recommendation to connect LMWC to the City's system. On March 23, 2021 City Council voted to enact the option to assume ownership of Lincolnwood’s water system and connect the Lincolnwood neighborhood to the City water system. As part of the agreement with LMWC, the City is waiving connection charges, which ordinarily would total approximately $14,000 per property.
Frequently Asked Questions
Monthly costs will vary based on water usage and meter size. Below are some examples that include the monthly service charge associated with a 5/8” meter, volumetric water consumption charges, and tax.
- Low water user (4 HCF): $53.48
- Average City water user (9 HCF): $130.12
- Higher water user (15 HCF): $222.08
100 Cubic Feet (1 HCF) = 748 gallons
Use our Rate Calculator to estimate water service charges based on other water usage levels.
The existing LMWC meters are on private property and installed in a variety of settings. Many are hard to access and are installed in landscaping, driveways, or decorative hardscapes, which the City would not be able to match and replace after completing the installation process. Residents are welcome to leave their old LMWC meter in place as they are now, or work with a plumber to remove them if they’d like. Your new City water meter will be installed per City standard in the public right-of-way (sidewalk). This will allow City staff to access and maintain the water meters without having to access your private property. It will also ensure that the meter will not be damaged or made inaccessible when changes are made to the private property such as the installation of new landscaping, hardscaping, fencing, or retaining walls. Lincolnwood Water Meter Diagram
Yes, the City will be attaching a radio device to the new City water meters as part of our automated metering infrastructure project (AMI). Customers will receive alerts of potential leaks and high water usage and will be able to log in to a customer portal to access hourly water meter reads. Access to this system is anticipated for winter 2023.
The City’s AMI system is City-wide, will provide hourly water usage data, and will transmit once a day. The City will install and maintain all AMI infrastructure. Water meter readings captured through the AMI system will be used for water billing.
Flume is essentially a personal AMI for your home. The Flume device is installed by the customer, uses your Wi-Fi connection, and will occasionally require you to change the battery. Your Flume will give you quicker info (real time) as well as more granular data (usage every minute). The City does not use Flume data for water billing purposes. Having a Flume will not interfere with the AMI system, and vice versa. Both have great features for providing leak notification and understanding water use patterns.
It is the City’s experience that when a water meter fails, the water still flows. The LMWC meters are old and it is likely there are several LMWC meters that have already stopped working.
The LMWC system averages approximately 65-75 pounds per square inch (PSI), while the City’s distribution system averages approximately 70-85 PSI. We recommend checking your pressure regulator, as you may experience a change in pressure. Learn more about pressure regulators.
The City collects samples and analyzes for total hardness twice a year from our distribution system. Total hardness at the two sample stations closest to the Lincolnwood neighborhood range from 360 to 458 mg/L. When determining the grains per gallon to set a water softener, you divide the water’s hardness concentration by 17.1:
- 360 / 17.1 = 21.0 grains per gallon
- 458 / 17.1 = 26.8 grains per gallon
When connected to the City water system we recommend initially setting your softener to 21-27 grains per gallon and adjusting as needed. The hardness of the City’s water changes based on the water sources the City is utilizing at that particular time and the water demand throughout the City. We recommend testing and adjusting your softeners every six months. Read more about water softeners here.
Construction began mid-September and will conclude by the Closing Date of December 14, 2022.
No. Lincolnwood residents will become regular City water customers, and will not have to pay special maintenance fees associated with the public system. Regular monthly water bills fund Citywide system maintenance. Maintenance of the water system on private property will be the responsibility of the homeowner, as it currently is with the LMWC. Lincolnwood Water Meter Diagram
Per the 1979 agreement, the City will acquire the entire system, including the water house at 3749 Lincoln Road and the property it sits upon. The City plans to use the property based on its current land use and will perform a condition assessment of the water production facility as scheduling permits.
Per the Transfer Agreement, it will be maintained as a greenbelt/open space parcel. In the future it may be used as a well site (as it is now – Well #2 is located on this parcel) or other asset of the City’s water enterprise compatible with use as a greenbelt/open space parcel.
The City’s water system is dynamic and has many built-in redundancies. The City has the most diverse water supply portfolio in the state, which includes surface water from Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar Reservoir, State Water, groundwater, desalinated water, and recycled water. This diverse portfolio of supplies enhances the City’s ability to supply water even under catastrophic circumstances. Learn more about our Water Sources.
Yes. Please visit our rebates page for more information on current rebate offerings.