On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito title=
From left: Montecito Water District Nick Turner (General Manager), Tobe Plough (Board President), and Ken Coates (Board Vice President); Montecito Sanitary District: Dorinne Lee Johnson (Board President), Woody Barrett (Board Vice President), Bradley Rahrer (General Manager)
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Source: Montecito Water District

Montecito Water District (MWD) and Montecito Sanitary District (MSD) Strategic Planning Committees met jointly last month for updates on two collaborative projects that are being co-funded by both agencies: an Enhanced Recycled Water Feasibility Study and an Evaluation of Special District Consolidation. The April 27th meeting was the first in-person meeting held in over two years, since collaborative meetings have been taking place via teleconferencing throughout the pandemic. Attendees included MWD Directors Tobe Plough and Ken Coates with General Manager Nick Turner, MSD Directors Dorinne Lee Johnson and Woody Barrett with General Manager Bradley Rahrer, staff from both agencies, members of the public, and presenters—some of whom participated via Zoom.


Andy Salveson, the Lead Project Manager from Carollo Engineers, Inc. provided an update on the Enhanced Recycled Water Feasibility Study. The Carollo team includes Rob Morrow of Water Systems Consulting, Inc. (WSC) who worked on the mostly grant-funded Recycled Water Feasibility Plan completed by Montecito Water District in 2019. The new Enhanced Study, also eligible for grant funding, builds on the work that was done prior with greater focus on potable reuse options following the State Water Board’s recent advancements with further development of the direct potable reuse framework. The study will also evaluate potential opportunities for regional collaboration with neighboring agencies including the Carpinteria Valley Water and Carpinteria Sanitary Districts, and the City of Santa Barbara on joint recycled water projects.

Jointly the committees expressed that it is more important to find the right solution than to rush:

“The Montecito Water District Board has taken actions over the last five years that have significantly improved our water supply outlook and as a result, we are well positioned to respond to the ongoing drought conditions,”said Nick Turner, Montecito Water District’s General Manager. “This enables us to take our time to thoroughly analyze recycled water and determine what is best for the community long-term. It is important that the Districts get this right.”

“The more you can plan it out and do it right, the better the use of the money it is going to be,” agreed Brad Rahrer, Montecito Sanitary District’s General Manager.

Two public workshops are planned for later this year, and Carollo anticipates having information ready for the first of these this summer. The consultant’s scope of work includes developing selection criteria to help the Board, Staff, and Public evaluate potential water reuse projects.

Also on the agenda for the joint Strategic Planning Committees is the possibility of a merger. Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. is contracted to prepare an independent Evaluation of Special District Consolidation which will yield a cost benefit analysis to support discussion and decision-making about potentially merging the two Districts. This is an initial study to determine whether the Districts should pursue consolidation with the Santa Barbara County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the entity with oversight of this process. If both Districts decide to continue pursuing a merger after this initial study is complete, LAFCO will require a more comprehensive feasibility study for their approval process. Both Districts’ Board and Committee meetings are open to the public, and a community-oriented presentation to share findings on this topic is also expected in the late summer timeframe once the consultants have had time to gather information.

The joint committee’s next meeting is scheduled for June 7, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Meeting times are subject to change and can be confirmed by referencing the agenda containing meeting location and remote access information available prior to the meeting at www.montecitowater.com or www.montsan.org. Customers of Montecito Water District and Montecito Sanitary District are encouraged to attend.

Montecito Water District’s Mission: To provide an adequate and reliable supply of high-quality water to the residents of Montecito and Summerland, at the most reasonable cost. In carrying out this mission, the District places particular emphasis on providing outstanding customer service, conducting its operations in an environmentally sensitive manner, and working cooperatively with other agencies. For more information contact: 805.969.2271, www.montecitowater.com

Montecito Sanitary District’s Mission: A community service commitment to protect public health and safety and to preserve the natural environment through the collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater in the most cost-effective way possible. For more information contact 805.969.4200, www.montsan.org

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pstarSR May 17, 2022 12:03 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

feasibility study? Sb has been doing recycled water for landscape for awhile. just ask......

I guess they couldnt ask over the Roar of the water trucks bringing in water for years.

SBREADER May 17, 2022 01:30 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

Listen to Hilary Hauser's Commentary on these issues. She knows more about local Recycled Water than anyone in that picture. Nothing new here. Recycle Water has been produced in Southern California for decades. We have two very reliable facilities right here on the South Coast, Goleta and Santa Barbara. Most people do not understand that next to Desal, Recycled Water is the most expensive water we produce. The facility itself is just one aspect. Building new purple pipes all over Montecito would be prohibitively expensive. One of the most expensive aspects of Recycled Water is pumping it from sea level where it is produced, to wherever you intend to use it. Montecito does not have adequate groundwater storage to do that type of operation as is being planned in Carpinteria.

As for partnering with Carpinteria, what part of No do they not understand. That idea is delusional. Santa Barbara is not going to be interested either. imagine pumping that water from East Beach to Montectio? Never going to happen.
As far the consolidation. if they can make it happen I think it would be a good thing.

Thomas John May 17, 2022 04:16 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

Can you provide some info or a link supporting "Most people do not understand that next to Desal, Recycled Water is the most expensive water we produce? "??

SBREADER May 17, 2022 06:32 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

Thomas John: Well it takes some time and willingness to read arcane Water Resources documents but if you are motivated, both the Goleta Water District and the City of SB provide well done Budgets and Longterm Water Supply Plans that inform all these issues and are easily accessible online.

RHS May 17, 2022 06:51 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

All water is recycled! Congratulations to MWD for pushing this economical and logical option. The city of SB was compromised twice by the proponents of hugely more expensive desalinated water. It is about time that reason prevails. I never saw it coming from MMD but they have my respect. Recycled water is SUBSTANTIALLY less expensive than desalinate water and is hugely less harmful to the environment both in what it discharges into the sea, what it stops from being discharged into the sea and from the energy required to operate it. In addition the long term guaranteed profit to the parasites who operate desal plants is avoided. Win and win.

FernaldPoint93108 May 18, 2022 09:49 AM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

Being pro-recycle and anti-desal doesn’t make a lot of sense. Recycled water requires a source during a severe drought, when lakes and ground water dry up, or you have nothing to recycle. Desalination provides that source.

RHS May 18, 2022 01:04 PM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

Fernald, if we get to the point that we don't have water to flush or wash dishes or bathe in this is all going to be behind us. Most of our water is now flushed out to sea, some is filtered back into the ground basin. We import a great amount but would have to import much less, or none, if we just use what we currently flush out to the ocean. The idea is to capture the water we waste and reuse it. This should tide us over any near term supply issues and build a model for a sustainable future.

FernaldPoint93108 May 18, 2022 08:24 AM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

So there was an extensive study done in 2019, and the new study will be an “initial” study, to be followed with a “feasibility” study. That’s a government project for sure.

yacht rocked May 18, 2022 09:58 AM
On the Table: Recycled Water for Montecito

I read it as new management didn't like the outcome of the first study, in fact they were elected on the basis of Mr Hazard's desire for a new outcome, hence a new study.

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