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Photo of Water Service Worker performing maintenance

COMB's Operations Division is responsible for diversion of water from lake Cachuma located in the Santa Ynez Valley to the South Coast of Santa Barbara County through the Tecolote Tunnel.  In addition, the Operations Division responsibilities include operation and maintenance of the South Coast Conduit conveyance pipeline, flow control valves, meters, instrumentation at control stations, turnouts and appurtenant structures along the South Coast Conduit and at four regulating reservoirs. COMB coordinates closely with the Bureau of Reclamation and COMB Member Agency staff to ensure that water supplies meet daily demands.

Overview of Facilities

Water from Lake Cachuma is conveyed to the COMB Member Agencies through the Tecolote Tunnel intake tower at the east end of the reservoir. The Tecolote Tunnel extends 6.4 miles through the Santa Ynez Mountains from Lake Cachuma to the western terminus of the South Coast Conduit, a concrete lined pipeline that extends 26 miles from the Tecolote Tunnel south portal to the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

Miscellaneous Statistical Information

Lake Cachuma maximum storage (acre feet)          193,305

Tecolote Tunnel (miles)                                                6.4

South Coast Conduit (SCC) pipeline (miles)              26

SCC design capacity                                                     45 million gallons per day 

Number of operational reservoirs                              3

Number of structures maintained                              220

Number of meters maintained                                    29

Bradbury Dam

Bradbury Dam, Lake Cachuma
Bradbury Dam

Bradbury Dam was originally named Cachuma Dam. The name was changed in 1971 to honor local water proponent Brad Bradbury. It is located on the Santa Ynez River about 25 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. It is a zoned earthfill structure, containing 6,695,000 cubic yards of material. It is 279 feet high from the bottom of the cutoff trench to the top of the dam and 206 feet above the streambed. The spillway section is concrete-lined, with four 50-by-30-foot radial gates, with a capacity of flowing 161,000 cubic feet per second.

Lake Cachuma has a capacity of about 193,305 acre-feet. The lake covers 3,250 acres when full and has a 42-mile shoreline.

Tecolote Tunnel

Construction of Tecolote Tunnel
Workers in the Tecolote Tunnel, 1954

Tecolote Tunnel is a concrete lined tunnel and extends 6.4 miles through the Santa Ynez Mountains from Lake Cachuma to the headworks of the South Coast Conduit. Construction of the Tecolote Tunnel began on March 30, 1950, and was completed in 1956. The horseshoe-shaped tunnel is 7 feet in diameter and has a capacity of 100 cubic feet per second.

South Coast Conduit

The South Coast Conduit conveys Cachuma Project water and State Project water from the Tecolote Tunnel to the COMB Member Agency water districts. The conduit is a high-pressure concrete pipeline and extends 26 miles from the Tecolote Tunnel outlet across steep canyons, rolling hills, and developed residential areas of the South Coast communities. It stretches to the Carpinteria Reservoir in the heart of Carpinteria Valley Water District's service area and supplies water to three regulating reservoirs along the way.

Reservoirs and Distribution Systems

The Lauro (Santa Barbara), Ortega (Summerland), and Carpinteria Regulating Reservoirs were constructed and integrated with the South Coast Conduit to gravitate or "float along the line."

In addition, Glen Anne Dam and Reservoir stored water from the South Coast Conduit for use in Goleta. Glen Anne Reservoir has been under storage restriction since 2002 due to seismic safety concerns.

Lauro Reservoir Image
Lauro Reservoir


Ortega Reservoir
Ortega Reservoir
Carpinteria Reservoir
Carpinteria Reservoir