Santa Barbara County Celebrates Completion of Tunnel Road Sewer Extension

Public Works Director Chris Sneddon, Coastal Construction owner Rick Esparza, Public Works Deputy Director Marty Wilder, First District Supervisor Das Williams, Public Works Deputy Director Jeanette Gonzales-Knight, Public Works Utilities Manager Kevin Thompson, First District Staff Kadie McShirley.

Santa Barbara County Public Works Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the successful completion of the Tunnel Road Sewer Main Extension Project.

The $500,000 project paid for by cannabis tax funds provided an initial sewer main extension up Tunnel Road that provides sewer service to four parcels. Future extensions will accommodate 90 more parcels to transition from septic to sewer systems.

Despite challenges posed by the steep grade of the road and hard boulders and rocks in the ground, the contractor Coastal Construction demonstrated exceptional dedication and innovation in completing the project. Their efforts included removing hard materials and utilizing horizontal drilling techniques to overcome these obstacles.

The issue arose due to the area’s deteriorating condition of many existing septic systems in the area. Studies funded by the Public Health Department Environmental Health Services Division determined that extending sewer main systems in the Mission Canyon area was necessary to address the issue.

First District Supervisor Das Williams said, “In this age, we understand the drawbacks of old septic systems. They can impact water quality, and that’s especially problematic when it’s close to creeks. But it’s also problematic when it’s close to your home. I want to thank Public Works for responding to the neighborhood need, the study that was done to highlight this need, and then the execution and being creative about how to fund the project.”

Public Works Utilities Manager Kevin Thompson and First District Supervisor Das Williams

Utilities Manager Kevin Thompson said, “The significance of this project goes back to 1986 when there was a large project to convert the more populated areas of Mission Canyon to a sewer system. However, the areas higher up were left to fend for themselves. This project showcases the values of the County and Public Works which aims to provide a high-quality service to our community, including the 90 parcels that can be served by a sewer system.”

The need for this project dates back to the formation of County Service Area 12 in 1984, which aimed to address health and safety concerns related to poor-performing septic systems in the Mission Canyon area. While a sewer system serving the more densely populated area of Mission Canyon was completed in 1986, certain parcels further up the canyon were allowed to stay on septic service.

Over time, many of these remaining septic systems have diminished in function and cannot be replaced, triggering the need for a sewer main extension. For more information about the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, visit

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