Behind the Dam

A window of landscape with a feeding tube.

Hiking behind the Bradbury Dam, the sun was just breaking through the clouds and illuminating the poured concrete dam gates with a golden light. This is a view one rarely sees in normal water/ rainfall years. This is the water side of the dam with one of the great gates raised just enough to peek through to a view of the landscape below and beyond the dam. The other striking feature was the black flexible pipe snaking its way through the opening. This turns out to be a pipe that brings water from the State Water system to the 'dead pool' of what used to be Cachuma Lake. Water is pumped through a valve at the bottom of the spillway to feed the Santa Ynez river below the dam. The last release of water was in August of this year. The river is obviously suffering from this intermittent feeding, relying mostly on rainfall and runoff. I was intrigued with this slice of landscape - tree-tops mostly - seen from this vantage point and the notion of it all being kept alive through what amounts to be a feeding tube. Water comes in, water goes out.

I titled this small gouache "umbilicus flumine" - latin for the river's umbilical cord - the State Water pipeline as a source of nourishment in this time of drought. There is another pipeline, white, that carries this same State Water to the intake tower which then pumps eventually to our backyards.


We just had a "good" rain storm come through - but only 0.67 of an inch at Cachuma - not nearly enough to nudge the lake level up.

Maximum storage for Cachuma Reservoir is 193,305 acre feet and currently it stands at 14,662 acre feet - current capacity is 7.6% (County of Santa Barbara Public Works website).