Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

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Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

Members of the City Council and Water Commission unveiled the newly renamed El Estero Water Resource Center today, celebrating recently completed improvements to the wastewater treatment process. El Estero’s new name and upgrades reflect the significant role the facility plays in community sustainability by providing resource recovery and protection of the environment and public health.

“We put a stake in the ground 49 years ago when we said protecting our environment and our ocean was a top priority. And we’ve maintained that leadership role, as the home of Earth Day, but also being known as a community that invests in protecting our surroundings,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said. “What better occasion than Earth Day 2019 to acknowledge El Estero’s past and recognize its future in addressing water resiliency—one of the key environmental challenges facing us in the twenty-first century.”

Mayor Murillo noted that sustainability and environmental stewardship have long been core values for Santa Barbara. “El Estero Water Resource Center’s upgrades and new name will help educate that there is no ‘new’ water—we have to conserve what we have, prepare for effects of climate change and drought, reduce our environmental footprint, and recover this valuable resource for future use and benefit.”

Originally constructed in 1951, the facility has undergone numerous advances in treatment technology and processes and today treats over six million gallons of wastewater daily while protecting the environment and public health. The latest upgrades to the plant allow for enhanced nutrient removal, which improves the finished water quality. This improved water quality has the added benefit of increasing the ability of the water to be utilized for expanded use of recycled water.

The wastewater that comes to the El Estero Water Resource Center is transformed into four renewable end products: treated water that can be safely released 1.5 miles offshore into the ocean; recycled water used to irrigate schools, parks, golf courses, and other sites, reducing demands for precious potable water; biosolids that are composted and used at farms and parks for soil nutrient recovery; and biogas that generates hot water and electricity to offset more than 70% of the energy needs of El Estero.

“It is fitting that on Earth Day we celebrate the environmental and public health benefits that the El Estero Water Resource Center brings to the people of Santa Barbara and the quality of the waters off this beautiful stretch of California’s coast,” said Mike Stoker, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator. “We are proud to join the state in helping fund this effort and to further the EPA’s mission by supporting critical water infrastructure here and across the nation.”

The Earth Day event at El Estero Water Resource Center included remarks from Mayor Murillo, Mr. Stoker, Water Resources Manager Joshua Haggmark, Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser, and Poet Laureate Laure-Anne Bosselaar.

According to Mr. Haggmark, the “relaunch” of the facility is more than a renaming. “We knew we needed to help change the conversation in Santa Barbara, recognizing this essential facility takes the ‘waste’ out of water, and supporting the goals of this community that all resources have value.” Mr. Haggmark said that the 56 employees who operate the facility and the collection system were integral in the renaming process to better reflect El Estero’s critical role in the community and the direction we are headed.

“It is our hope and our plan that we can someday reuse all of the water from El Estero Water Resource Center, taking advantage of improving technologies. Water is a precious resource at all phases, surface water, groundwater, recycled water, stormwater, seawater, and now wastewater,” said Mr. Haggmark. “The El Estero Water Resource Center is a hub of environmental protection, resource recovery and innovation.”

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yacht rocked Apr 24, 2019 07:33 PM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

Great opportunity to extend the branding by building a surf pool there, like Kelly Slater did in Lemoore, CA. El Estero Surf Ranch: Where waves are consistent, and vaccination highly recommended.

All Sides Apr 23, 2019 06:35 PM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

I read this story on NH a couple of days ago. The only place I could find to voice my feelings about it on Edhat was the story about Montecito building a plant of some sort. They are not sure what kind of plant yet. I have been waiting for a little outrage. The City of SB spends money on weird stuff. The desal plant is really just a big machine. Like a car. People name their cars, for fun. I have never heard of anybody paying to get help naming their car. El Estero has been the name of the sewer plant for a long time. It seems to me that that name was pretty obvious, except maybe Yanonali St. Water Plant. And I am not sure why water treatment facilities need an expensive Tag Line. What do you think?

a-1582610232 Apr 23, 2019 11:49 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

Thank you, whoever posted that the City paid a consultant $33K for this renaming. Shame on Hilary Hauser for participating in this political stroking. "Enhancing Santa Barbara's Quality of Life", LOL! There's an election this November. We need to remember who does what. At least two of those running are Mayor-Cathy-wannabe's, without backbones of their own.

a-1582610232 Apr 23, 2019 10:03 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

I wouldn't be surprised. Everything with a logo has to be remade - outdoor signs are very expensive - multiple uniforms for every employee, pre-printed letterhead, rebranding of vehicles, pens...

a-1582610232 Apr 23, 2019 09:25 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

How appropriate. When it is fires, floods, death, and destruction, Murillo is silent. Name change for our Turd Processing Plant, she is out there 100%. I would like to process the turds at City Hall.

Yeti Apr 23, 2019 08:56 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

Pathetic waste of taxpayer money. Too bad we can't pay a high priced consultant to decide which of the many city and county employees we should lay off due to being over paid, under worked and just not needed.

Factotum Apr 23, 2019 08:16 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

This is what happens when your elected officials think they have free money to spend. They don't think of it as your money or they must be accountable to you for how it gets spent. It is now their money and they can do anything they want with it. And still get re-elected. Not their fault they get aways with this. The fault is ours for re-electing them.

uponthehill Apr 23, 2019 07:58 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

I agree one hundred percent. A lot of hungry children can be fed for that amount of money. I am aghast that the city would spend money to rename the sewage plant . The city could have held a contest in the elementary schools to have the children come up with a name.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 23, 2019 07:01 AM
Santa Barbara Unveils New El Estero Water Resource Center

In yet another incredibly stupid and wasteful move, the City in their infinite wisdom, decided to spend $33,000 on a PR firm tasked with changing the name and pushing out local media puff pieces for a waste water station. Let that sink in for a minute. $33,000 of our money on a name change for a waste water plant. If you wonder why our city is broke and going after more of your money, look no further than these types of decisions. They are everywhere. The people who proposed and enacted this asinine and utterly superfluous project should all be fired. But of course they wont. Nope, instead they be given raises while the city hires a $200k consultant to come in and tell them how they could improve their departments and their duties...

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