County Responds to Dumping on Local Beaches
Sediment dumping at Goleta Beach (Photo: Eric Lyman / Twitter)
Update by County of Santa Barbara
5:00 p.m., January 12, 2018
Ongoing County Restoration Efforts Require Transport of Sediment to Local Beaches
As search and rescue continues, county, city, state, and federal agencies are conducting restoration efforts simultaneously. These efforts include cleaning out debris in basins and channels and clearing roads for access to repair utilities and to reopen Highway 101 and State Route 192.
Part of restoration includes transporting sediment cleared from roads and channels to local beaches. The sediment consists of wet or dry dirt or mud and does not contain rocks, debris, or vegetation. Santa Barbara County Flood Control District obtained emergency permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Coastal Commission to place sediment on local beaches. Current permits allow up to 300,000 cubic yards of sediment to be placed into the surf zone (i.e. where the waves are breaking) at Goleta Beach and Carpinteria Beach at the end of Ash Avenue.
At this time, approximately 800 cubic yards has been transported to Goleta Beach. Approximately 900 cubic yards has been transported to Carpinteria Salt Marsh. Sediment transported to Carpinteria Beach is mainly coming from Franklin Creek and Santa Monica Creek within Carpinteria Salt Marsh. The amount of sediment transported to the beaches is of less quantity than the level of sediment that naturally flows through the drainage system during a rainfall event. Sediment clean-up will continue to restore the area to pre-storm conditions as quickly as possible. Without these efforts, subsequent storms will cause more destruction.
Santa Barbara County Flood Control personnel are at each site inspecting each load that is delivered. They are instructed to refuse any load that contains unpermitted material. Occasional rocks and other material are being hand-picked and set aside for disposal. Both Goleta and Carpinteria Beach have been used in the past for both routine and emergency sediment placement.
Emergency permits issued do not require testing for this critical operation. However, Public Health Department officials will continue to test ocean waters and will act accordingly.
County officials understand the seriousness of this activity and how community members may be concerned. This extraordinarily horrific incident has required County personnel to work under emergency permits. However, precautions are being taken, including inspecting loads for unpermitted materials.
Response from Hillary Hauser, Executive Director of Heal the Ocean
Heal the Ocean has received numerous (some irate) phone calls regarding the mud being deposited on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches. Television media has also called for a response from us. We told them, and everyone else, we were investigating and would let everyone know when we knew the answer. We at HTO don’t believe environmental knee-jerk reactions help anything, least of all the environment.
First, the Thomas Fire/mudslide is a disaster of enormous proportions. Possibly the worst since the Earthquake of 1925 took down the Potter Hotel. The 101 Freeway is still closed, and as this commentary is written, now closed indefinitely, because the workers, as they remove mud and debris, are carefully combing the water and debris for bodies of missing persons.
More importantly, the decision to deposit mud on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches Is a decision not made lightly by the numerous agencies charged with dealing with this massive problem - including public works officials from the city and county of Santa Barbara, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cal Trans, and the contractors themselves.
Prudent decision-making is harder in a time of disaster of this magnitude (Think Katrina)...but a decision-making process is put in place nonetheless, to consider the options. Tom Fayram, Director of Santa Barbara County Public Works, told Heal the Ocean today (Friday, January 12) that "when the mud is 10 feet high on a telephone pole on Danielson Road (Montecito), and when people are still missing, maybe buried in mud...we have only a few options, the chief one of which is “to return the community to normal as soon as possible.”
“That is what we are doing to the best of our abilities,” Fayram said. “After we get the community back in shape, people can slap me all they want.”
Beyond that, all those concerned with the water quality of the ocean need to know the following:
—There are two County Environmental Planners at each site, inspecting “every single truckload,” and those that don’t meet requirements are turned away...to a site off Highway 154;
— Debris and vegetation is going to a site in Buellton and/or Ventura County Fairgrounds for holding until future disposal decisions can be made.
Ventura County is helping. Many agencies that have weighed the options available to solve this massive problem are working night and day. Dogs are being employed to find missing people buried in mud and debris.
Heal the Ocean asks all Ocean lovers and surfers (who should accept the fact they shouldn’t get into the water right now) to support the agencies working hard to get us out of this mess.
And our thoughts and prayers go out to all those still searching for loved ones.
Posted at 9:00 a.m., January 12, 2018
Edhat readers wonder, why is mud from Montecito being dumped at several local beaches?
Sludge from Montecito now being dumped at: Carpinteria Beach, Goleta Beach and Via Chaparral area off of Cathedral Oaks.
According to News Channel 11 the mud that is being pumped from the 101 freeway in Montecito from the mudslide is being dumped at Goleta Beach. This seems like an outrageous violation of water quality standards and clean water principles. That mud is full of oil byproducts, ash from the fire and clay sediment that has cement-like qualities not compatible with marine life. What are they thinking? This is an outrage.