Ground-water levels for 1996 were compared with 1972 water levels to determine if a "drought buffer" currently exists. The drought buffer was defined previously, in a litigated settlement involving the Goleta Water District, as the 1972 water level in the Central ground-water subbasin. To make this deter mination, a network of 15 well sites was selected, water levels were measured monthly from April through December 1996, and the 1996 water-level data were compared with1972 data. The study was done in cooperation with the Goleta Water District. The 1972-1996 water-level-altitude changes for corresponding months of the comparison years were averaged for each network well. These averaged changes ranged from a rise of 9.4 ft for well 2N2 to a decline of 45.0 ft for well 8K8. The results of the comparison indicate a rise in water level at 1 site (well 2N2) and a decline at 14 sites. The mean of the 14 negative average values was a decline of 24.0 ft. The altitude of the bottom of well 2N2 was higher than the bottom altitudes at the other network sites, and this well is located a few feet from a fault that acts as a hydrologic barrier. The results of the water-level comparison for the Central subbasin were influenced to some unknown degree by the areal distribution of the set of wells selected for the network and the vertical dis tribution of the perforated intervals of the wells. For this reason, the mean water-level change--a decline of 21.8 ft--calculated from the averages of the month-to-month changes for the 15 network sites, should be used with caution. In addition, the number of usable individual monthly comparison measurements available for an individual site ranged from one to nine, and averaged six. Therefore, a weighted mean of the monthly averages was calculated on the basis of the number of comparison measurements available for each site. The weighted mean is a decline of 20.9 ft. All Central subbasin wells that were idle (that is, were not being pumped) when measured in 1972 and that were measureable in 1996 were included in the network. Therefore, the network is the most inclusive possible, given the available data. The objective of the study strictly was to compare 1972 and 1996 water levels in the Central sub basin, and the conclusion is that, overall, 1996 water levels are lower than 1972 levels. In general, hydro graphs for selected network wells indicate stable or rising water levels during 1972-83, declining levels during 1984-92, and rising water levels during 1993-96.