Environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, left, will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Old Spanish Days Historical Parade, announced El Presidente JC Gordon, right.  (Fritz Olenberger photo)
HTO is thrilled that the theme of Fiesta this year is "The Coastal Frontier," celebrating the ocean - and that Jean-Michel Cousteau is presiding as Grand Marshall of the Fiesta Parade, to be held on Friday, August 5, 2016. Jean-Michel is President of Ocean Futures, Santa Barbara, but is also an old friend to Heal the Ocean – he got us started in 1998 and still serves our Board of Directors.

As for the Fiesta Parade, HTO recently contacted the City of Santa Barbara to make sure the storm drains on State Street are being covered, so that confetti doesn't go down the drain into the ocean. After the Summer Solstice parade of 2015, HTO took up the issue of the confetti with the City Creeks Division, and after our meeting the City began a pilot program for State Street parades. Fiesta 2015 was covered, but unfortunately this year's Solstice Parade was not. So, we contacted the city again. On Thursday July 14, 2016 we were contacted by Jim Dewey, Facilities and Energy Manager for the City of Santa Barbara Public Works Department, who guaranteed a multi-year program, starting with this year’s Fiesta Parade. Big Green, a Santa Barbara environmentally-savvy cleaning organization, will prep and place “silt fencing” over all catch basins and drop inlets located along the parade route. The confetti will then be swept by the traditional street sweepers following the festivities.

Once again, Heal the Ocean salutes the City Creeks Division for renewing its commitment on this storm water issue--and we will be saluting Jean-Michel Cousteau as he rides by as Grand Marshal!

On June 7, 2016, the State of California issued Order WQ 2016-0068-DDW outlining water reclamation requirements for recycled water use. Heal the Ocean has been an advocate of recycled water as a way of reducing waste(d)water discharge into the ocean, and we welcome the finalization of this order.

As stated in the order, “recycled water” means water which, as a result of treatment of waste, is suitable for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that would not otherwise occur and is therefore considered a valuable resource. (Wat. Code, § 13050(n).) Coverage under these Water Reclamation Requirements (WRRs) for Recycled Water Use (General Order) is limited to treated municipal wastewater for uses consistent with the Uniform Statewide Recycling Criteria, and other uses approved by the State Water Board on a case-by-case basis, other than direct or indirect potable uses. An estimated 1.85 to 2.25 million acre-feet of water supply could be realized annually though recycling by the year 2030. 

HTO salutes this measure because in Santa Barbara's drought conditions, recycled water can offset the need for desal and imported water. In normal precipitation years, recycled water use can reduce groundwater extraction, giving our aquifers a chance to build back up again.


On June 21, 2016, Santa Barbara County adopted an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) ordinance, which will provide a new program for residents to safely dispose of their unused household medications at pharmacies.  
Heal the Ocean thanks Santa Barbara 3rd County Supervisor Doreen Farr for leading the charge on this drug buy-back ordinance. Approximately 1,800 pharmaceuticals are used in the US, and many end up flushed down the toilet. Such substances, called "Contaminants of Emerging Concern" (CECs) are not treatable in wastewater plants, and so they pass through to contaminate the environment, including marine life. The new pharmacy take-back program is expected to be operating in Santa Barbara County in Fall 2017.

HTO has been involved in the issue of CECs for many years, including attendance and input at the State Water Board expert panel discussions on developing standards to measure the levels of CECs in the environment. Because HTO advocates for recycled water as a way of reducing waste(d)water going into the ocean, we are focusing on brine waste, which is the sludge that remains after wastewater is highly treated to become usable water. Unless wastewater is treated with the highest possible technology (i.e. ozone) brine waste can contain pharmaceuticals and other CECs we don't want to see in the ocean. HTO Operations Coordinator Corey Radis is working with wastewater managers and recycled water associations to produce a White Paper that can be used by agencies to address this problem. We remain dedicated to zero discharge of contaminants to the ocean.

In the meantime, we salute Supervisor Farr for her leadership on the pharmaceutical disposal issue, and are happy to see the drug take-back program getting into high gear.


Corey Radis, with fish hat on head, accepts donation from 5 year old Hudson Hersh, who brought us his allowance money on June 30, 2016.
We are particularly moved when young people write us about their love of the ocean. When they come into our office with their birthday money, or their allowance, all work stops while we take in the wonderful energy of these wonderful kids who have already developed such sense of purpose. Hudson Hersh recently arrived at our office unannounced with his mom, Nicole, to give us his allowance money. What a time we had! Corey Radis, HTO Operations Coordinator, put a paper-mache fish hat on her head so we could make a little party of it--and dear Hudson, we thank you so much.

Caption: City of Santa Barbara. Certified Final Program Environmental Impact Report for the Plan Santa Barbara General Plan Update – Volume I. AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc., Sept. 2010, p. 18-11. 

Heal the Ocean has been researching the potential impacts of sea level rise (SLR) on wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Santa Barbara County. Because of climate change, sea level rise is a "given" in Santa Barbara, with flooding scenarios predicted for 2030, 2060 and 2100 as documented in the Plan Santa Barbara General Plan Update by AMEC Earth and Environment, Inc. (2010). At HTO, the talented Mitchell Bass is at work on this issue. Before moving to Santa Barbara, Mitch worked for the New York City Office of Emergency Management. He is putting the finishing touches on research we're undertaking to get an idea of what it would take to "waterproof" a local wastewater plant on the Santa Barbara south coast. 

It's a sad but necessary fact of life that wastewater plants everywhere are situated close to water bodies, including the ocean, for easy disposal. The best example of how we need to take the WWTP flooding seriously can be seen in the example of coastal flooding during Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, which resulted in over 10.9 billion gallons of sewage overflows (visit Climate Central for more details). 

"Swimmable California Day" - what a thought. Who would have imagined it necessary that in 2013, the California Legislature would have to pass a resolution for such a day? This is why Heal the Ocean was founded by a group of Santa Barbara citizens who said ENOUGH OF THIS. Nevertheless, we are grateful for this potent reminder - a commemorative day to celebrate swimming in the ocean. We thank Senator Hannah- Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams for co-authoring this resolution, because on July 25th we will have a "Swimmable California Day," to remind us that we all have a right to waters that are clean and safe for swimming and that we still have much work to do.


We thank our new sponsor, Susan Petrovich and her dog, Brandy for sponsoring the dispenser at Loon Point (off Padaro Lane). More information on our Doggy Bag Program can be found here. The program is intended to keep doggy-doo out of the ocean, out of our rivers, and off of our beaches, trails, and parks.

If you are interested in sponsoring, or donating to, or Doggy Bag Program, click here or email We have a few dispensers left - in great locations! Thank you, Susan Petrovich! 


Heal the Ocean's Annual Celebration is now on-line, in the works, warming up! We are again at the historic El Paseo Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara, and this year, along with a short film to show what HTO is accomplishing (produced by HTO Board member (and producer of "The Women and the Waves 2") Heather Hudson and Maurice Salmin) ...the evening will be highlighted with a great show by FRANK AND HIS FAVORITE FEMALES. Frank (Sinatra) is played by Monty Aidem, and, unbelievably, the same singer/actress is performing Marilyn Monroe AND Liza Minnelli! The sponsorships are already coming in - even at this early date - and tables sell out quickly! So please Click here to reserve your table and help HTO with your sponsorship. Thank you! 

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