Current Work

The following project are currently under work by Heal the Ocean and collaborators. Click each project to learn more about it!

 Becker Well Capping by Harry Rabin

Becker Well Capping by Harry Rabin

Summerland Oil / Becker Well

Summerland Beach was a scene of great joy the morning of Monday, February 26, 2018, as a barge from Curtin Maritime, Long Beach, arrived to the coastline and positioned itself to lower the construction equipment to cap the infamous leaking Becker Well. Heal the Ocean was there to confer with State Lands Commission officials, who were watching the operation from Lookout Park, and to discuss future operations to follow on the other offshore/underwater wells.

On Thursday, June 21, 2018HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser traveled to Sonoma, Calif., to attend the State Lands Commission hearing, where she lent applause when SLC petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran gave the Commission a report on the successful capping of Becker Well on Summerland Beach, completed in February 2018. She also encouraged the Commission to approve a staff recommendation to begin the procedure for an implementation plan for SB 44, (Hannah-Beth Jackson, 2017), which is providing funds for the abandonment of leaking oil wells off the California coast, including permanent abandonment of up to three leaking wells off Summerland. (Read HTO’s letter to the Commission here.

 Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

HTO works with Home for good to tackle summerland homeless project

Homelessness is a problem in more ways than one: for sure it's no good for the people without shelter, food or mental help, but also homeless camps are widely recognized as a major source of water pollution because of lack of sanitation in the camps. Heal the Ocean has been tackling the problem in Summerland since Spring 2017 when a Summerland resident sent up a drone picture of a large camp on Union Pacific Railroad property. We immediately began working with Carpinteria/Summerland Fire Department and a Santa Barbara County sheriff to clean out the camps, which became a particular problem with the camp caught on fire.

Last month (mid-July 2018) Heal the Ocean signed an agreement with Home For Good Santa Barbara County to go a step further - to fund the Summerland arm of a program that brings in government agencies, foundations, and service providers to move homeless families and individuals into permanent housing and linking them to the support they need to recover and rejoin society.

We thank Jane Gray of Dudek for bringing us into this program, and for introducing us to the good people of Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, which has raised over $635,082 of a $800K budget to tackle the problem - which in Santa Barbara County also includes about 100 people living in the Santa Ynez River watershed. Jane organized a meeting between HTO and former Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, who is a Regional Coordinator in the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, with the result that HTO signed up to take on the financial needs of the Summerland part of the Home For Good program. Outreach work begins September 1, 2018.


parade confetti and cascarones

The long-held tradition of smashing someone's head with an empty eggshell filled with confetti (cascarone) has always been a hoot - and a big part of Santa Barbara's annual Fiesta and summertime parades. The tradition was great fun until the confetti became plastic or metallic/mylar - which does not degrade, but instead goes down the storm drain and into the ocean, where fish eat it. Several years ago Heal the Ocean took up the issue with the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division, and we were successful in getting the city to contract for the covering of storm drains during Fiesta and Summer Solstice, and the sweeping up afterward. Still, this stuff gets away in the wind, and the covers are no longer keeping the material out of the storm drains.

Heal the Ocean is working with city agencies to mitigate confetti pollution. With the help of city agencies and the community we are hoping to see an increase in workforce, equipment, and materials along with community education to curb the problem before next years parade season. 

Meanwhile, Heal the Ocean operations coordinator Alison Thompson created a flyer that's going around town on this subject. 


Groundwater report with the regional water quality control board

When the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board passed the Human Right to Water resolution, a program created to collect data, identify, and track communities who do not have access to clean and safe water, HTO approached the Board to offer help. We hired Cal Poly intern Riley Haas to  organize groundwater data starting with the gathering of existing groundwater studies and water well data from priority basins such as Santa Ynez River Valley, Santa Rita, Lompoc Plain, Lompoc Upland, Lompoc Terrace, Careaga Sand Highlands, Goleta Basin, Santa Barbara Basin, Carpinteria Basin, and Montecito Basin.  When this report is finished it will be an important tool for the Regional Board to gauge sources of pollution, whether for nitrates or bacteria.  A progress report on this project will be presented at the June 28-29, 2018 Water Board hearing in Santa Barbara.