Goleta Beach Sewage Spill More Than Double Initial Estimate

Goleta Beach County Park on July 4, 2023. credit: Lael Wageneck, Santa Barbara County Public Works

Update by the edhat staff
February 24, 2024

The Goleta West Sanitary District (GWSD) issued a statement on Friday, February 23, updating the estimated volume of sewage spilled into the Goleta Slough at more than double the initial estimate.

The spill came from a pipeline running through the southwest corner of the Santa Barbara Airport at the terminus of runway 33 adjacent to Tecolote Creek. The volume of the spill has now been updated to approximately 1,025,000 gallons, according to GWSD.

Responding agencies were able to recover and prevent the discharge of 75,000 gallons of sewage into the Goleta Slough.

“GWSD is continuing to work closely with various agencies to ensure public and environmental health and safety are protected while diligent response efforts are underway, including monitoring water quality in the affected area,” according to the GWSD statement.

Goleta Beach Closed for Sewage Spill, Second Beach Closure This Week

by the edhat staff
February 22, 2024

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has closed its second beach this week due to a sewage spill.

Goleta Beach is closed Thursday due to a release of approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage from a damaged main sewer line near the Santa Barbara Airport to the Goleta Slough during the recent rain event.

As a result, Goleta Beach from 1-mile east to ½-mile west of the Goleta Slough outfall has been closed to recreational water contact. The affected area has been posted with signs warning the public to avoid all contact with the water until sample results indicate the water is safe for recreational use, according to the Public Health Department.

The Goleta West Sanitary District, who manages the damaged sewer line, contacted the Goleta Sanitary District (GSD) for assistance. GSD crews immediately assisted the Goleta West Sanitary District, providing resources and personnel to help with initial spill cleanup and investigation efforts, including the use of heavy equipment and water quality analysis, according to a statement by GSD.

The Goleta West Sanitary District is continuing to investigate the cause of their sewer spill. GSD remains available to assist as needed.

On Tuesday, Public Health announced the closure of Miramar Beach in Montecito due to a spill of untreated sewage. The spill involved a release of approximately 2,500 gallons of sewage from a sewer manhole to Oak Creek, near Sinaloa Drive in Montecito during the recent rain event. As a result, Miramar Beach from ¼-mile east to 1/8-mile west of the Oak Creek outfall has been closed to recreational water contact.

There is no estimated time of reopening for either Goleta Beach or Miramar Beach.

Contact with sewage-contaminated water increases the risk for certain types of illnesses, as does storm water runoff following recent rainfall. Storm water is untreated rain water that flows through the drain system into creeks, the ocean, and other waterways. Contact with storm water while swimming or surfing may increase the risk for certain types of illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea.

To minimize potential health risks, Public Health advises not to swim, play or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following a rain event. Beachgoers should also avoid areas near the outfall from drainpipes and creeks that enter the ocean following a rain event as storm water runoff may carry high levels of bacteria and pollutants.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Who is in charge of Goleta sanitary district as well as who’s in charge of Montecito sanitary district? Donald duck or goofy? this is unacceptable. 500,000 gallons. You gotta be kidding me all the money we’ve spent they don’t have any safeguards get rid of the higher ups and get a competent dept head

    • rainfall in Goleta is at 150% of normal to date. Sh*t happens. It would be nearly impossible to prevent the aging system from being overwhelmed for brief periods during torrential rain events. Likely those 500,000 gallons was 99% rainwater inundating the sewers. This is nothing compared what our friends in San Diego have to deal with from the Tijuana river year round.

    • Neither of those districts have anything to do with this. It’s Goleta WEST Sanitary District. Do you know what a force main is? It’s pressurized to accommodate extremely high levels of flow, any leak that forms will cause a large spill in a short amount of time. This is the risk we live with in civilized society. It’s going to happen from time to time. You can’t control all aspects of a system. For example, force main pipes may have invisible manufactoring defects that go undetected for years before failing catastrophically. Maintenance cannot catch all problems.

  2. “…release of approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage from a damaged main sewer line near the Santa Barbara Airport” is very minimal information. I hope there is followup to this story with more informative details of how this happened and the steps that need to happen to prevent re-occurrence.

  3. What I find interesting is that it appears that the County is dredging the flood control channels by the airport (site of the spill) and depositing the dredge spoils on the east end of Goleta Beach. How long will that be off limits?

    • The dredging started well before this spill. I doubt they’re dredging after it, but it’s another question for the public agencies involved. If citizens are asking this question and more, sanitary districts need to answer it.

      I’m sure they’re working their butts off and I thank them for it.

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