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In this E-Letter:

  • HTO Works on Wastewater Problems in Santa Ynez
  • HTO Organizes Aerial/ Dive Survey of Summerland Oil Mess
  • Potable Reuse Comes Closer to Reality
  • Getting a Grip on CECs
  • HTO's Rincon Project Gets More Recognition - this time in Film!
  • Anna Yoo Joins HTO Team
  • Come See Us at the Harbor Festival, October 15
  • Our Big Show is Nearly Sold Out, Buy the Last Remaining Tickets NOW!
On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, the district manager of the Solvang Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in the Santa Ynez Valley officially denied the Santa Ynez Community Services District (SYCSD) additional wastewater capacity. This includes the 338 parcels recently annexed into the SYCSD for wastewater service if they need to abandon septic systems because of septic system regulations now in force. Fortunately, SYCSD is well on its way to building its own treatment plant - and it will be one that recycles water instead of injecting it into the Santa Ynez river system, as is done by the Solvang WWTP.

When the Proposition 1 facilities upgrade grant program began (with over $600 million in state funds for recycled water projects), HTO approached the Solvang WWTP manager to get the district interested in the funding program. We were told there was “no interest.” However, Jeff Hodge, SYCSD general manager, immediately signed on for a facilities planning grant with the consultant recommended by HTO (RMC Water, Santa Monica) for a wastewater recycling plant to handle Santa Ynez's wastewater. This would put the Santa Ynez's wastewater to good use rather than sending it to Solvang for secondary treatment, followed by injection into the Santa Ynez River watershed.

The SYCSD’s draft facilities planning grant is now being finalized by RMC and will qualify the SYCSD wastewater recycling facility for further State funding help. Everything will be in place in time to take wastewater from the 338 parcels of West Santa Ynez recently annexed into the SYCSD.

The west Santa Ynez area (including Horizon/Stadium) has been identified by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as “problematic” for septic systems because of the rising nitrate levels in groundwater, underneath the densely populated area on septic systems. After the Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) passed, which places severe restrictions on septic system owners in areas deemed "problematic," Heal the Ocean is working with all areas deemed problematic. We helped appeal to Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services(EHS)  for funding of an engineering plan for laying pipe in the Horizon/ Stadium Way area, and we have worked to explain to property owners that by extending sewer service into the area, they are given the CHOICE of hooking up to sewer if their septic systems fail. They do NOT have to hook up otherwise.

 HTO salutes the SYCSD for having the foresight to move forward with plans for a recycled water plant for Santa Ynez Valley! The Santa Ynez River leads to the ocean and it feeds groundwater that also feeds the ocean - not to mention groundwater that also serves as public drinking water on both sides of the Santa Ynez mountains.

Breaking News! The California State Lands Commission (SLC) has just published the Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Becker Well Abandonment and Remediation Project. The Becker well has been identified as the chief suspect in the oil mess that plagues Summerland beach. SLC will be holding a public scoping meeting to enlist environmental concerns to be included in the environmental impact report for capping Becker Well. The meeting will be held on October 20 at 2:00pm at the Carpinteria City Hall.

While State Lands proceeds on the Becker Well project, Heal the Ocean is proceeding with a survey plan so that when state funding comes around again, the other leaking spots off Summerland Beach will have been identified for remediation. SB900, Hannah-Beth Jackson/Das Williams “Oil Legacy” bill was vetoed by Governor Brown in late September, but Senator Jackson will work again to get funding for oil well cleanup in 2017, and HTO is getting ready to receive this funding for Summerland.

With help from the Manitou Fund/ Nora McNeely Hurley & Mike Hurley, HTO is developing an aerial/underwater survey of the Summerland offshore area in consultation with SLC officials, AQUEOS Subsea, and Jane Gray of Dudek Environmental. HTO thanks the Manitou Fund hugely for getting this project off the ground and providing the funds to hire Dudek Environmental to organize the project.

In addition, HTO has contracted with Blue Tomorrow, a Santa Barbara-based environmental and water consulting company, to track the oil sludge that regularly appears on beaches above Summerland, including Miramar and Butterfly Beach. Alex Dragos of Blue Tomorrow went to the scene of the Miramar Beach oil sludge recently collected by HTO supporter Brad Hall, and surveyed the surf with Hall, where the sample was taken. In its tracking exercise, Blue Tomorrow is using a model called GNOME developed by NOAA to track the trajectory of oil spills. The object of this project is to tell us the direction of oil dispersing from Summerland as well as from Coal Oil Point.

The next step toward the long-awaited Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) guidelines arrived from the State Water Board in early September. The "Draft Report to the Legislature on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse" is the next step toward setting standards for potable recycled water. Heal the Ocean is communicating with both the State Water Board and the City of Santa Barbara on this report to ensure that California gets the best regulations possible, but in a timely manner so that water managers can move forward on this important water supply issue.

In addition, the City of Santa Barbara recently released a new technical advisory panel (TAP) report examining different ways to incorporate recycled water into the City’s water portfolio. HTO looks forward to working on this issue with City officials as they go through the TAP process to settle on a long-term water-supply plan that is to carry the City forward to 2020.

Heal the Ocean would like to repeat that before we began to promote recycled water, we thoroughly studied the potential human health impacts, whether for irrigation or groundwater recharge. We emphasize first that using recycled water for irrigation will conserve 75% of our potable water source. Treating recycled water to a purified water standard involves a multi-step process, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and concentrated UV light. HTO's investigation into this issue can be studied in HTO Policy Strategist James Hawkins' white paper, Potable Reuse: A New Water Resource For California."

Illustration by William Duke

Continuing our campaign on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in either recycled water or the environment, Heal the Ocean appeared before the Regional Water Quality Control Board in September and advised the panel that the state's feasibility work on Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) will be the best path forward to clean up our wastewater supplies and address CECs. Alex Bennett, HTO's Policy Associate, told the Board that progress on this effort will help address the CEC issue beyond just wastewater pollution.

The Rincon project spearheaded by Heal the Ocean keeps on getting accolades, including a full spread in Water World Magazine (magazine or online version of article), which came out on September 14th, 2016. The article, written by Joseph Harmes, offers an eloquent overview of the Rincon septic to sewer project with insight from community members, project engineers, and Heal the Ocean.

Have a look at the video embedded in the article: starring Hillary Hauser, Heather Hudson, Corey Radis, Craig Murray and Steve Halsted.

We are thrilled to welcome a new member to our team: Anna Yoo. Anna is a senior at UCSB studying English and is an avid rock climber. She will be helping us out in the office with writing tasks and managing our social media accounts. She has already set up a Heal the Ocean Instagram! Check it out @healtheoceansb.


One of Heal the Ocean's favorite public events is the Harbor Festival, which takes place every year in the Santa Barbara Harbor on the second Saturday in October. The festival features arts & crafts, and ocean-realted organization alongside fishermen serving up wonderful seafood. Heal the Ocean will be on the City Pier - come check out our cool T-shirts, and talk to HTO Public Outrach gurus Ruston Slager and Laura Camp about what we're doing! 

A few seats are left! Don't delay in buying tickets to Heal the Ocean's  annual celebration, A REALLY BIG SHOW! on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the historic El Paseo Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

This will be another one of HTO’s fabulous events, where you will have a quick film-update of HTO’s environmental victories and current campaigns – followed by A REALLY BIG SHOW! as performed by Monty Aidem as Frank Sinatra, and – get this – Gailyn Addis as BOTH Marilyn Monroe & Liza Minnelli (This quick-change artistry should be a magic show of sorts!).

A fast-paced auction, a few musical surprises, great food and friends, and dancing to the foot stomping soul sounds of HTO’s famous dance track of 2013. For more information please email or buy your tickets here.


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