Make A Donation Today! go


HTO 2012 Newsletter pdf

Click on the cover above to download Heal the Ocean's 2014 Newsletter or click here.

Heal the Ocean's Featured Research

Waste(d)water Infographic: A New Water Resource for the Santa Barbara Region
Water Reclamation Research
HTO Pocket Guide
California Ocean Wastewater Discharge Inventory
WDI Google Fly To Map and Resources
IRWMP Planning Grant Application for Wastewater Recycling Submitted eptember 2010, answer expected from State by January 2011!
Read the future of Water in Santa Barbara! HTO's Synopsis of the City of Santa Barbara 2009 Water Supply Planning Study
Cost of Tertiary Wastewater Treatment for Santa Barbara (2001)

Featured Video

Another Day at the Beach?


The Latest

POSTED ON May 29th, 2015

On Sunday, May 31st, at 1:00 p.m., Heal the Ocean and our Executive Director Hillary Hauser will be at the Stand in the Sand rally, joining others who will walk down State Street and join hands at the ocean's edge to signal to the oil industry, Enough, already.

We hope you will join us in delivering the message that Big Oil cannot take one more beach, one more piece of ocean, nor can it continue to cause this kind of environmental mayhem. We must come together and push, hard, for the clean energy future that the world requires.

After the rally, join Hillary in looking for new, greener transportation (Hillary says she's ready for a gasless car, and may even take up bicycling again at the ripe old age of 70). And for certain she, and we, are taking a stand in the sand with everyone who works for the ocean.

Thank you!

Continue Reading
POSTED ON April 16th, 2015

Drought hits hard, HTO hits harder

With unprecedented dry conditions across the state, the Governor has ordered the first ever statewide mandatory water rationing of 25%, and with no rain or snow on the horizon, Heal the Ocean continues to push on our biggest issue: the reclamation of waste(d)water supplies for use in the state's parched urban centers.

In our last E-letter we reported that HTO has been working with RMC Water, Los Angeles, on a study paid for by HTO to add specifics on the feasibility of upgrading and expanding the City's recycled water plant. That study proposal has turned out to be a template by which HTO is meeting with all Sanitary and Water districts on the Santa Barbara South Coast to work with them to productively convert waste(d)water to good-quality water to use. It is our dream that all wastewater pipes are turned around from the ocean – to Heal the Ocean this mission is even larger than the Rincon septic-to-sewer project, which took us 15 years to complete.

Here is a progress report on our Waste(d)water Campaign:

  • Carpinteria Sanitary District and Carpinteria Valley Water District are in the middle of a Facilities Upgrade Plan for the CSD Wastewater Treatment Plant - and one of their options for a redesign of the plant is for a full upgrade to highly treated recycled water, for groundwater injection;
  • Montecito Sanitary District and Montecito Water District has agreed (week of April 11, 2015)  to participate in a Dudek study of the Montecito groundwater basin, a study organized and commissioned by HTO. The purpose of the study is to see if groundwater injection is possible, with highly treated recycled water from the MSD plant. HTO is paying for a third of this study, our share generously supplied by HTO Board Member Thomas Dabney;
  • HTO has met with Goleta Sanitary District, the Goleta West Sanitary District and the Goleta Water District, to facilitate a meeting of the minds about upgrade to highly treated recycled water for use in the Goleta Valley, with possible groundwater injection as part of the scenario;
  • The largest part of HTO’s study with RMC Water is centered on the City of Santa Barbara Recycled Water Plant. Scheduled to be operational later this year, the newly reconstructed plant incorporates Microfiltration, and the volume of recycled water produced is .8 mgd. HTO’s study is focused on cost feasibility of expanding the plant to produce highly treated “gold standard” recycled water. As part of its Regional Water Quality Control Board permit for its Desal Plant, the City is conducting a study with Carollo Engineers to explore alternate water supplies. HTO is coordinating with the City public works, to make sure their study includes everything we want to see in it. And the pieces that are not there, we’ll leave in our RMC study!

To see how good recycled water can be, watch this 90 second video from CBS "60 minutes" (click picture below):

Continue Reading
POSTED ON February 09th, 2015

The Citizens' Action Group that was formed by people who love the ocean, and that has proven to be one of the most effective environmental groups in the State of California.

Our philosophy is based on helping Cities and Counties find funding to  upgrade infrastructure in support of ocean water quality.


Heal the Ocean feted by RWQCB,

Senate, Santa Barbara County

HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser was all smiles after HTO not only received a Commendation from the Regional Water Quality Control Board on January 19, 2015, but also from the California State Senate and the County Board of Supervisors. The Commendation was presented to Heal the Ocean in recognition of HTO's great success in working with the Carpinteria Sanitary District (CSD) to bring the Rincon Septic-to-Sewer project to fruition. Paying tribute from the County Board of Supervisors were Janet Wolf – 2nd District Supervisor – and Eric Friedman – speaking for 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's salute was made by her aide, James Joyce. The Regional Board Commendation was read by RQWCB Board member (and HTO Co-Founder) Jeff Young.

In the audience were surfers who helped raise funds for sewer engineering studies; Rincon homeowners (Steve Halsted – who led the Rincon homeowner drive for funds to pay for legal work –spoke in praise of HTO); Penfield & Smith engineers who worked on the project; CSD Manager Craig Murray with CSD board members; and HTO Board members, staff and supporters. There was a standing ovation when Hillary introduced those in the audience who helped with the project, and ended her words with appreciation and thanks to all involved. It is not lost on us that Heal the Ocean started in 1998 during a public protest at the County Administration Building and 16 years later we were now "upstairs," being feted for finishing what we told the public we would do way back then.

Our Philosophy - To Help

One reason for HTO's success in bringing the project to fruition is our philosophy of helping – with money as well as words – to bring to pass the environmental improvements we seek. HTO worked with CSD to procure a $2 million State grant to help all homeowners in the annexed area (Sandyland and Sand Point as well as Rincon) pay for their share of the sewer project. We raised, with homeowner help, $250,000 to pay legal bills when the fight broke out; we paid $48,000 for a supplemental EIR out of our own pocket. We stepped up with a $67,000 guarantee for CSD when the District first took on the project. We worked with CSD to lobby the State for the $425,000 needed for the EIR for the project. Our effectiveness comes from our determination to help fund the projects we support and champion these projects from start to finish.
Desal & Indirect Potable Reuse


When the City of Santa Barbara fired up its public process to reinstate its Desalination Plant, Heal the Ocean discussed with Public Works the pros and cons of subsurface intakes, and we reviewed the City's 1997 feasibility study for the project. Then we went before the Santa Barbara City Council and presented our plan to fund an Indirect Potable Reuse Study, for the upgrading of both quantity and quality of the recycled water in the City's existing Recycled Water Facility, now being rebuilt to include microfiltration. At this City Council hearing, held in September 2014, the Council directed Public Works to look into Indirect Potable Reuse as an additional water supply at the time of firing up the Desal Plant.

To make sure we get what we've asked for – and in the spirit of helping the City – HTO began in November to begin scoping this Indirect Potable Reuse Study with RMC Water, Los Angeles, with the study paid for by us. RMC is the engineering firm now conducting a year-long, $500,000 countywide study to identify new water sources in Santa Barbara County, which we believe is excellent. We are initiating work with RMC to add specifics on the feasibility of upgrading and expanding the City's recycled water plant. Our scope also includes an examination of storage issues (i.e. groundwater injection) in not only the City but other areas of the South Coast.


Continue Reading
POSTED ON January 16th, 2015

HTO to Receive Commendation from Regional Board, State Assembly & Senate   

During its two-day hearing in Santa Barbara on January 29-30, 2015, the Regional Water Quality Control Board is set to make a public commendation to Heal the Ocean and, specifically, Executive Director Hillary Hauser, for leadership shown in bringing the Rincon Septic-to-Sewer project to fruition. The State Assembly and Senate are joining in on this bestowal of honor, which recognizes the 15 years of tenacity it took to bring this important environmental project to fruition. The Rincon project was part of the South Coast Beaches Septic to Sewer Project, which removed septic systems from 7 miles of Santa Barbara coastline. To recognize those who made this victory possible, HTO is in the process of inviting to this public ceremony the surfers, homeowners, Carpinteria Sanitary District board members, public officials – and mainly the great HTO membership – who made this victory possible. Stay tuned!

HTO Joins CSD at CASA Conference    

On January 21, 2015, HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser will join Carpinteria Sanitary District Craig Murray in a presentation at the California Association of Sanitary Agencies (CASA) conference, where CSD is being recognized with CASA's“Best Project of the Year” award for the Rincon Septic-to-Sewer project. This honor, which is being given in Palm Springs, CA., is highly sought after within the industry.

Carpinteria Sanitary District deserves this reward – and more! – for its years of perseverance and commitment to the entire South Coast Beach Communities Septic to Sewer Project. Thank you Carpinteria Sanitary District, and Craig Murray, for making this project a reality!


HTO Sends $17K to SB County for Dog Bags

Heal the Ocean is proud to announce that on December 29, 2014 we wrote a check for $4,000 to the County of Santa Barbara to supply compostable doggy bags for dispensers at all south county beaches – bringing our 2014 contribution to the County for dog bags to a grand total of $17,800!

With the County budget at $24,000 to buy these bags, HTO is proud that we've been able to pay for nearly three-quarters of the bags – which are compostable “BioBags” made in California with non-GMO corn resin.

Principal donations during 2014 came from Jack & Kim Johnson's "All at Once" matching program ($5,000) and a whopping $6,000 was donated by Dr. David Dawson, owner of Montecito Pet Hospital/Santa Barbara Veterinary Group, HydroPaws & San Roque Veterinary Hospital, through HTO's Dispenser Sponsorship Program. Dr. Dawson's stickers, made by Heal the Ocean, can be seen on all the dispensers at Arroyo Burro Beach, and throughout Montecito and Summerland beach areas. And we thank Leslie von Wiesenberger for funding all the bags that fill the dispenser at Rincon Beach Park.

Mainly, the bulk of the support came from YOU, our wonderful, dog-loving HTO members who have donated right and left to pay for these bags!

We ask our supporters to renew their commitment to this outstanding collaboration between HTO and the County by making a donation today. Every $60 donation buys 1,500 bags for beach dispensers from Rincon to Goleta!

Please make a donation in the name of your dog(s), and e-mail us their picture(s) at so we can include them in our fabulous HTO Dog Show, posted on our website to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Please check out the show, and please join us in supporting this program. Thank you!

Developing a Strong Septic Policy for Santa Barbara County    

While Heal the Ocean is being feted at State, County and Regional levels for our success in a 15-year battle to get septic systems off the beaches in South Santa Barbara County, we are still battling for stronger septic regulations in Santa Barbara County so that a 15-year war doesn't break out every time there is a movement to fix a problem area. For the past year, Heal the Ocean has participated in a stakeholder process led by County Environmental Health Services to develop a Local Area Management Program (LAMP) that complies with AB 885 – a state law authored by then State Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson and others governing septic systems. Heal the Ocean objected to the draft LAMP that came out of the year-long local  process and we approached the Regional Board for intervention, testifying that the proposed regulations were weak, and ultimately unable to target areas needing repair or upgrade. 

The Regional Board supported our request, the draft LAMP went back to the stakeholder committee, and a revised draft was developed that sets up a regulatory path to identify and address areas with existing polluting septic systems. This revision was submitted in December 2014 to the Board of Supervisors where HTO argued for it being approved and sent to the Regional Board for its input on the document. The Regional Board is now reviewing the LAMP, and is expected to hold a public hearing on the issue during spring 2015. HTO is staying close to the language on this one, because we don’t want to see long and expensive fights over cleaning up areas where septic systems are known to be polluting groundwater or surface water.

Expanding Recycled Water on the South Coast

HTO believes the wastewater treatment plant is one of the most important environmental tools of our day (try living without it!) We are working with sanitary districts rather than fighting them, to find funding for treatment plant upgrades to include the production of purified “gold standard” recycled water. We have been working to unite the Montecito Sanitary District (MSD) with the Montecito Water District on a plan wherein the two agencies would participate in an upgrade to the MSD plant to include recycled water, and possibly a desalination component, which would help the Montecito community solve its water shortage problems. HTO is also working with RMC Water, Santa Monica, to narrow a scope of a study we plan to commission, to increase recycled water use in the City of Santa Barbara. We believe wastewater is Waste(d)water™ and that a key strategy of keeping Waste(d)water™ out of the ocean is to purify and reuse it on land.

Jean-Michel Cousteau to Receive Attenborough Award, HTO has Tickets for You!    

On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will present the prestigious Attenborough Award For Excellence in Nature Filmmaking to the Cousteau Family – Jean-Michel and his son and daughter Fabien and Celine — for their decades-long commitment to educating the public and discovering the mysteries of the ocean. The award will be presented on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at the Arlington Theatre.

Heal the Ocean has been given tickets to give to our supporters, first-come, first served, which we are proud to do, to celebrate the fact that Jean-Michel is not only a long long-time friend of HTO but he also provided a 501c3 status to Heal the Ocean when we first came out the gate in 1998 during a public demonstration in Santa Barbara about the sad state of ocean pollution. For the first few years of our life, we were a subset of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Institute (now Ocean Futures). Jean-Michel is still on HTO’s Board of Directors – and we are on board with him!

For a pair of tickets, please send your request to The show begins at 8 p.m., and it’s general admission. 

Congratulations, Jean-Michel!

Thank You, Sotheby's    

For the fifth fabulous year in a row, Sotheby’s International Realty chose HTO as one of the non-profits to be given the proceeds of their one-year (2014) collection of a portion of its real estate commissions! We are not only in awe of the sizable donation made to us, we are proud to be honored along with four other wonderful charitable organizations in Santa Barbara County. We give deep thanks to all of the Sotheby’s realtors as well as big bear hug to Greg Tice, Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Brokerage Manager, who ran a great show at the awards ceremony at the Cabrillo Arts Center this past December.

Continue Reading

Heal the Ocean Platform


Heal the Ocean works to get wastewater treatment plants up to higher treatment levels (i.e. our 2002 win to have the Goleta Sanitary District upgrade to full secondary treatment). As a way of keeping wastewater out of the ocean, HTO is now involved in finding funds for sanitary districts to join with water districts to produce recycled wastewater totally cleaned of CECs (contaminants of emerging concern), suitable for irrigation and other uses. This program ties in with California’s dire need of water in a worsening draught.

Heal The Ocean's Research in This Area


Septic systems operate on the principle of leaching, and they must be removed from inappropriate beach and creek areas. “Cluster overuse” must be dealt with by sewer hookup. HTO facilitates homeowner associations to hook up to sewer, i.e., our recent successful campaign for the “South Coast Beach Communities Septic to Sewer Project,” wherein 7 miles of beaches will be cleared of septic systems.

Heal The Ocean's Research in This Area


(e.g. stormwater and groundwater). HTO has worked to toughen storm water permits for Santa Barbara County and every city in Santa Barbara County, has worked with USGS and the City of Santa Barbara on a three-year groundwater study. We lobby for increased street sweeping and enforcement for illegal dumping into creeks and drains.

Heal The Ocean's Research in This Area


Dredge and fill operations in the name of “restoring beaches” will not be performed unless materials are suitable, and clean for beaches, and plans do not cause smothering of near-shore sea life.


We are taking an active role in the issue of pollutants leaching into the sea and into groundwater from unlined landfills. HTO research now includes the examination of data from monitoring wells in Santa Barbara’s waterfront area for both old landfill sites and unresolved LUST (leaking underground storage tank) sites.

Heal The Ocean's Research in This Area