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.