February 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • Becker Well Capping Rescheduled for February 26
  • Mud Dumping Permit Expires February 20
  • Hillary Receives Medal from SB City Fire Department
  • Citizens Go to the Beaches to Help
  • Happy Valentine's Day!

BECKER WELL CAPPING RESCHEDULED
FOR FEBRUARY 26

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Heal the Ocean has received notice from InterAct, the contractor for the State Lands Commission capping of Becker Well on Summerland Beach – that the project is back on the calendar for Monday, February 26, 2018! We are thrilled to see the notices posted around Summerland, and to see this work move back up to the starting gate. We are crossing our fingers that the weather and ocean are calm on this day and for the few days after, so that the contractors can get the work done. With Neptune’s help, Becker Well will be capped, and that project will give something good back to the ocean - perhaps a Thank-You present for helping the community in our extremity of dealing with the horrible fallout from the Montecito Mudslide.


MONTECITO MUD TAKE 3

Public Works is grappling with the boulders that came down with the Mudslide. Photo by Mike Eliason.

Public Works is grappling with the boulders that came down with the Mudslide. Photo by Mike Eliason.

Heal the Ocean is also pleased that the emergency permits that have allowed for the dumping of Montecito mud on Goleta Beach, as well as the deposition of debris basin material on Carpinteria Beach, are being allowed to expire February 20, 2018. We are told by Santa Barbara County Public Works that the Carpinteria operation has ceased already. Our hope is that the halting of these operations will allow the ocean to begin healing – so that the State Lands Contractors can cap Becker Well.  We hope and pray for quiet weather to help the homeowners still grappling with the difficulties of getting mud hauled off their private properties. We will be looking forward to a short range plan to find another spot for mud and sediment, and send our thanks to Public Works that it is looking for a spot to re-purpose all the hard materials that will come from the demolition of houses. The real work will be to come up with a long-range plan to handle such geological fall-out in the future if ever (heaven forbid) it happens again in Santa Barbara County. Plus, there is still the dilemma of what to do with the gigantic boulders that litter the landscape of Montecito.


HILLARY RECEIVES MEDAL FROM
SANTA BARBARA CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

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One late afternoon, Hillary was working in the HTO office alone, when there came a knock on the door. She thought it was the night watchman, but in walked Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy, who placed what felt like a big coin in Hillary's hand. When she opened her fist she saw a Santa Barbara City Fire Dept. Medal, and as she stood there, stunned, Chief McElroy said, "We don't give many of these out.” He explained that HTO's role in acting as conduit for information to the Santa Barbara Community about the Montecito Mudslide disaster, and softening the blow to the public about the controversial disposal of mud on beaches was of enormous help not only to the Fire Department, but First Responders and all disaster workers. 


CITIZENS GO TO THE BEACHES TO HELP

Top row: Michael Hurley on Summerland Beach; Lily Issaris & Chloe Zamp at Goleta Beach Middle row: Rachael Randall and Forest, at East Beach; Claire Yusingco & friends at Goleta Beach; Bottom row: Maire Radis and family/friends tackle Loon Point

Top row: Michael Hurley on Summerland Beach; Lily Issaris & Chloe Zamp at Goleta Beach
Middle row: Rachael Randall and Forest, at East Beach; Claire Yusingco & friends at Goleta Beach;
Bottom row: Maire Radis and family/friends tackle Loon Point

Although concerned citizens couldn't get near the hazardous piles of debris that had washed down to the beaches during the catastrophic storm and Mudslide event on January 9, 2018, many wanted to help right away in some way - and so they went to beaches to pick up plastic items that had washed down with everything else. Many intrepid volunteers are still at it, and HTO has handed out numerous re-usable gloves and trash bags to people who come by our office to get them. Thank you, volunteers! HTO has plenty of sturdy gloves and bags for anybody who wants to help.


A VERY HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ALL!

Heal the Ocean sends our love and thanks to all of you!

Heal the Ocean sends our love and thanks to all of you!

Montecito Mud Study Starts; Becker Well Capping Delayed

BECKER WELL CAPPING DELAYED

Oil Infrastructure on Summerland Beach. Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

Oil Infrastructure on Summerland Beach. Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

With considerable frustration, Heal the Ocean has had to inform Summerland residents and beach lovers that InterAct Ventura, the contractors who will cap the notorious leaking Becker Well on Summerland Beach, has sent out a notice that the capping of the of the well is delayed from its planned start date this week due to ocean conditions – namely, poor water quality (no doubt a result of the Montecito Mudslide).  InterAct is hoping to start the project on February 26, 2017. (This date is also dependent on ocean conditions...we will keep you posted!) Meanwhile, HTO supporter Nora McNeely Hurley (who has led the charge on getting this mess of a well capped), please keep the Finney Avenue residents ready to celebrate, because this project will happen! It will take four days to cap the well once construction starts.


BREN RESEARCH TEAM STARTS STUDY ON

SEDIMENT DISPOSAL IN THE OCEAN

Dr. Patricia Holden, Principal Researcher on Mud Impacts to the Ocean

Dr. Patricia Holden, Principal Researcher on Mud Impacts to the Ocean

Heal the Ocean has promised our members, and the community at large, that after the initial response to the monstrous disaster of the Montecito Mudslide, there would be the appropriate time to get going with the environmental work. We have had the pleasure this week of talking with UCSB Professor Patricia Holden, whose research group has started a comprehensive study entitled "Microbiological Water Quality and Public Health Implications of Upland Sediment Disposal to a Recreational Beach," to understand impacts of the mud disposal. Although Dr. Holden is still applying for funding, she has conveyed to us that the research can't wait and "The time to test is now." Her group is focusing this work at Goleta Beach, hoping to document the longer term attenuation of whatever impacts are found in surf zone water quality. In 2007 Heal the Ocean received a $333,000 Proposition 50 research grant, which paid for a three-year ocean current/microbiological study that included Dr. Holden and her team. We know her work, and it’s stellar. Thank you, Trish!
 
Meanwhile, Heal the Ocean continues to thank all the hard-working officials and emergency responders who continue to work on returning the Montecito Community to a semblance of normalcy. To pay tribute to what these hard-working heroes have gone through since the morning of January 9, 2017, we have placed the following ad in this week’s Montecito Journal:

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Montecito Mud, Take 2; And a Big Oil Cleanup Gets Ready to Roll!

MONTECITO MUDSLIDE, TAKE 2

Mike Eliason photo collage from David Diamant post on Facebook

Mike Eliason photo collage from David Diamant post on Facebook

There have been 57,431 views of Heal the Ocean’s editorial on the Montecito Mudslide, which we published as an E-letter sent to our members, and on our Facebook page. Our commentary was “liked” 710 times, shared 585 times, and commented on 114 times.  Most comments were favorable, in that the community has taken comfort in HTO support of the County’s cleanup of this environmental disaster – which includes dumping of mud on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches.
 
Nevertheless, there were objections (including one from an attorney). Heal the Ocean is an environmental group, and one of our mantras is “No Ocean Dumping.” How can you support this? Objectors asked. Our answer is this:
 
Good environmental work focuses on fixing, upgrading and cleaning up everyday, ongoing practices that pollute. A disaster of monumental proportions, such as the Montecito Mudslide, where a community or city has to dig out of a massive, tragic situation, is not everyday practice – and it is not a time to quibble. We must realize this is not business as usual, and support our emergency workers all we can. Once we get to the other side of this monster that has hit us, we will do all we can to clean up and fix.
 
In talking to officials, agencies and even the contractors hired by the County to dispose mud on the west end of Goleta Beach and on Carpinteria Beach at Ash Avenue, we reasoned among ourselves the fact that our community is in a lousy situation with no good choices. We must get behind the efforts of emergency workers struggling to open the 101 freeway, clear roadways of mud…as well as look for bodies. And then we pray for those who have been hurt by this disaster.
 
HTO would like to address some of the objections that have come in:
 
Why isn’t the mud being dumped in front of Montecito (Butterfly Beach)? It’s closer. (And isn’t this a case of rich people using areas used by less-fortunate people for their garbage?)
Montecito (Butterfly Beach) is part of the disaster area. It makes no sense to pick up mud from one part of a disaster area and put it back into the same disaster area. The following photos illustrate why Butterfly Beach (Channel Drive) would not be used as a mud disposal site:

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As for the rich people using beaches other than their own – economic differences are not taken into consideration by Public Works officials when strategizing how to clean up a vast, tragic, horrible mess such as this. The Montecito community has been badly hurt, there is no class distinction to death and destruction. (And comments like this is why Noozhawk has discontinued its blog comments on news stories.)
 
Why aren’t these trucks taking this mud to Tajiguas?
Tajiguas is 26 miles up the Gaviota coast. Round trips of 52 miles each would require tremendous energy and stretch cleanup time unreasonably. Time is of the essence – not only for finding missing persons, but the rains are going to come again. The 101 freeway is closed indefinitely, and the impact of that doesn’t need to be explained. Once again, this is a disaster of monumental proportions – Santa Barbara’s worst disaster since the earthquake of 1925 that nearly leveled the entire town.
 
Comments have been made about the County not having proper permits for mud disposal on the beaches (one of these comments coming from an attorney).
The County obtained Emergency Permits from the appropriate agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, Army Coprps of Engineers, - and it received a 401 Umbrella Emergency Permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
 
But the stuff is toxic – you can’t dump stuff into the ocean that’s toxic.
The truckloads are being inspected at both sites by environmental monitors. Those that don’t meet standards are turned away – to various dump sites, including a County dumping site off highway 154, the County’s own dump yard, and large debris is going to Ventura County Fairgrounds.
 
Once again, we see no wonderful solutions here in this disaster of monumental proportions. We must realize this is not business as usual, and support our emergency workers all we can. On the other side of this monster that has hit us, we will do everything we can to clean up and fix. We salute the individuals who are already out there on the beaches (those that don’t interfere with emergency operations), picking up plastic debris that has drifted into the ocean and spread up and down the coast. These individuals are thinking of how to help, rather than to criticize.
  
At the public information meeting Tuesday evening, January 16, 2018, at La Cumbre Junior High School, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso emphasized the importance of beach workers to wear gloves and sturdy shoes. And please do not enter the restricted disaster areas.
 
For those who want to help with beach cleanup, Heal the Ocean is offering free sturdy gloves and bags to give to you. E-mail Corey at the office to arrange pickup of supplies corey@healtheocean.org.
 
Thanks to everyone who has come forward to encourage us. We need it, too!


NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS:
CAPPING OF BECKER WELL IS STARTING

Becker Oil Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

Becker Oil Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

The notorious Becker Well at Summerland Beach is soon to be capped! HTO has heard from the contractors capping the leaking Becker Well on Summerland Beach, InterAct, Ventura, that the Becker Well Re-Abandonment work will start in about 10 days. As planned, the work will be done from a barge, anchored just offshore. InterAct says barge loading of equipment will occur on January 25, 2017 and will arrive in Summerland on Saturday or Sunday, January 27 or 28, 2018 for work to begin.

The project is expected to take 4 to 5 days to complete.

We join California State Lands officials in thanking Summerland resident (and HTO huge supporter leading the charge of cleaning up oil off Summerland Beach) Nora McNeely Hurley for posting, as required, the project notice at Lookout Park and around Summerland. The notice has been sent to Summerland residents, and published in the Coastal View newspaper, in accordance with permit requirements.  (Please note: the dates of the project might change by a day or two).

At Heal the Ocean, we can hardly wait to get started!

ABOUT THE THOMAS FIRE MUD ON THE BEACH

Heal the Ocean has received numerous (some irate) phone calls regarding the mud being deposited on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches. Television media has also called for a response from us. We told them, and everyone else, we were investigating and would let everyone know when we knew the answer. We at HTO don’t believe environmental knee-jerk reactions help anything, least of all the environment.

First, the Thomas Fire/mudslide is a disaster of enormous proportions. Possibly the worst since the Earthquake of 1925 took down the Potter Hotel. The 101 Freeway is still closed, and as this commentary is written, now closed indefinitely, because the workers, as they remove mud and debris, are carefully combing the water and debris for bodies of missing persons.

More importantly, the decision to deposit mud on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches Is a decision not made lightly by the numerous agencies charged with dealing with this massive problem - including public works officials from the city and county of Santa Barbara, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cal Trans, and the contractors themselves.

Prudent decision-making is harder in a time of disaster of this magnitude (Think Katrina)...but a decision-making process is put in place nonetheless, to consider the options. Tom Fayram, Director of Santa Barbara County Public Works, told Heal the Ocean today (Friday, January 12) that "when the mud is 10 feet high on a telephone pole on Danielson Road (Montecito), and when people are still missing, maybe buried in mud...we have only a few options, the chief one of which is “to return the community to normal as soon as possible.”

“That is what we are doing to the best of our abilities,” Fayram said. “After we get the community back in shape, people can slap me all they want.”

Beyond that, all those concerned with the water quality of the ocean need to know the following:
—There are two County Environmental Planners at each site, inspecting “every single truckload,” and those that don’t meet requirements are turned away...to a site off Highway 154;
— Debris and vegetation is going to a site in Buellton and/or Ventura County Fairgrounds for holding until future disposal decisions can be made.

Ventura County is helping. Many agencies that have weighed the options available to solve this massive problem are working night and day. Dogs are being employed to find missing people buried in mud and debris.

Heal the Ocean asks all Ocean lovers and surfers (who should accept the fact they shouldn’t get into the water right now) to support the agencies working hard to get us out of this mess.

And our thoughts and prayers go out to all those still searching for loved ones.

Thank you.

Hillary Hauser, Executive Director

January 2018 E-Letter

Off to a roaring start for 2018!

Off to a roaring start for 2018!

In this E-Letter...

  • HTO Starts the Year With All-New Website & Online Store
  • Another Good Start For 2018: Becker Well Capping Begins!
  • HTO Seeks Prop 1 Grant for Santa Ynez Septic-to-Sewer Project
  • Los Olivos Voting on Forming its own CSD to Handle Wastewater
  • HTO Welcomes Becky Twohey to Our Staff
  • 2017 Dog Bag Program: A Dog-Gone Success!
  • HTO Support Reaches Historical High in 2017

NEW & IMPROVED HTO WEBSITE!

Heal the Ocean has a great new website! The redesign focuses on timelines and history for each of our Mission Statements – and where we are going now. A quick scan through our site shows our impressive accomplishments – physical changes to infrastructure that have reduced pollution sources to the ocean and watersheds.

PLUS – a great new HTO store! HTO T-shirts are ever-popular, and over the years fans come by the office to buy them, and they sell like hotcakes at Earth Day and other public events. Now you can see new HTO T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats in groovy new colors, and buy any time you want!
For a limited time only, you can also buy custom Jes MaHarry necklaces, too.

Huge thanks to Mike Wald of Oniracom for website design and consulting.


BECKER WELL CAPPING TO BEGIN!

SLC officials discuss plans for Becker Well construction on Summerland Beach. Photo by Hillary Hauser.

SLC officials discuss plans for Becker Well construction on Summerland Beach. Photo by Hillary Hauser.

 

HURRAH! Talk about starting the New Year with a bang…construction planning has started for capping the infamous Becker Well! State Lands Commission (SLC) drilling engineer Steve Curran reported to HTO today, January 3, 2018, that SLC is near the end of the permitting process, is finalizing the noticing, and anticipates being on schedule to begin construction/capping at the end of January, “weather permitting.” InterAct Engineering, Ventura, has been named contractor, and will be bringing in construction equipment by ocean float barge – rather than the beach being disturbed with the moving in of heavy machinery. Biological monitoring will be conducted from the cliff overlooking the well site. We salute Steve Curran (photo, far right) and the SLC staff for its persistence in addressing Becker Well – which has been oozing oil onto Summerland beach – and into the ocean – for far too long.


HTO GOES AFTER PROP 1 FUNDS TO HELP
SANTA YNEZ SEPTIC TO SEWER PROJECT

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Heal the Ocean has hired Dudek to submit a project proposal to the State for Proposition 1 Groundwater Program funding for an important septic-to-sewer project in the Horizon/Stadium area of Santa Ynez where over 400 homes on septic systems overlie a groundwater basin used for drinking water. HTO is collaborating with the Santa Ynez Community Services District (SYCSD) to get this funding, which could possibly pay the bulk of costs for homeowners. We’ll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) has reported to Heal the Ocean that the analysis of its Groundwater Characterization Project is expected to be completed this month, January, or in February. This report will show nitrate trends in Santa Ynez groundwater basins to help RWQCB and Santa Barbara County Environmental Health officials gauge proper action according to septic system regulations under the County’s Local Area Management Program (LAMP).


LOS OLIVOS VOTING ON FORMING ITS OWN CSD TO HANDLE WASTEWATER

Residents of Los Olivos will go to the polls beginning next week (January 8, 2018) to decide whether or not to form its own community services district (CSD) to create its own wastewater treatment system. Ballots and voter information guides on Measure P2018 are being sent by the Santa Barbara County Elections Division to approximately 500 registered voters in Los Olivos who will decide whether or not to authorize an annual special tax not to exceed $200,000 per year but which shall increase automatically each fiscal year thereafter. For Measure P2018 to succeed, 66% of the voters need to vote in favor. The cost of the actual building of wastewater plant infrastructure will require another vote in the future.


WELCOME ABOARD, BECKY!

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HTO is proud to welcome our new Policy Analyst, Becky Twohey, to our staff! Becky received her Ph.D. from UCSB’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science, where her research focused on integrating human dimensions into marine governance. She has worked for a number of marine conservation organizations on program creation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. As HTO Policy Analyst, Becky is responsible for leading HTO research projects and will be working closely with HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser to develop policy, position statements and papers, as well as establishing communication and coordination with local and state agencies. Becky lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, Matt, and their 18-month old son, Ansel.


HTO DOG BAG PROGRAM:
A DOG-GONE SUCCESS!

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A huge bark-out to our supporters for making Heal the Ocean's Doggy Bag Program the most successful ever! We are now adding up the totals for 2017, to send to both the County and City of Santa Barbara to pay for 100% compostable dog bags. In 2017, our sponsorship program raised over $15,000, and we brought in $9,000 from direct Doggy Bag donations….making a total contribution of over $24,000 that goes directly to the maintenance and installation of truly compostable doggy bag dispensers at City and County parks and beaches! Thank You, doggy bag program supporters, and a special big bark to San Roque Pet Hospital, Montecito Pet Hospital, Advanced Veterinary Services, Susan Petrovich, Helen Walker and La Cumbre Animal Hospital for participating in our sponsorship program. Please patronize these businesses as a way of saying Thank You from all of us!


HTO'S BEST YEAR EVER!
THANK YOU, SUPPORTERS!

Hillary Hauser accepts donation from Sotheby's International Realty for 8th year in a row! (Rich van Seenus of Sotheby's International Realty, Montecito office does the honors)

Hillary Hauser accepts donation from Sotheby's International Realty for 8th year in a row!
(Rich van Seenus of Sotheby's International Realty, Montecito office does the honors)


In 2017, HTO donations were the highest in our 20-year history! We are so grateful to you, our supporters, for keeping us highly operational despite the turmoil and natural disturbances of 2017. Each of us at HTO pours our hearts into our work, and we are so glad to have such a strong supporter base to keep our important projects moving forward. We will continue working tirelessly towards all of our goals in 2018 (and beyond). Thank you, all!

SAILING INTO THE 2017 SUNSET WITH HTO

... And Moving Forward into 2018

Photo (c) Patreon

Photo (c) Patreon

Dear HTO Supporters:
As we wind down the last days of 2017, all of us at Heal the Ocean are looking forward to what's over the horizon. Beginning in January 2018, we have great new victories coming your way, including:

  • The capping of the onshore Becker Well on Summerland Beach.State Lands officials communicated with us over the holidays some construction details they mapped out in December - with the actual work to start in JANUARY 2018!
  • Capping of offshore/underwater wells off Summerland Beach. In 2017, the Aqueos aerial survey identified 4 specific offshore wells leaking into the ocean. In 2018, Aqueos will launch its underwater survey of those sites, to work up a construction plan for the State Lands Commission to cap the wells.
  • Multi-million dollar state grant for the 450+ homes in the West Santa Ynez septic-to-sewer project. HTO has hired Dudek Environmental to get a Proposition 1 Groundwater grant for this important project, which is called for under the County's Local Area Management Program (LAMP) that regulates septic system impacts on groundwater. Our purpose is to help the homeowners financially.
  • HTO/RWQCB groundwater study wrap-up. HTO has a paid intern working at the Regional Water Quality Control Board to organize into electronic form the water quality data for all groundwater basins in Santa Barbara County. This study is expected to be finalized in January or February, 2018, and will pinpoint groundwater basins that need immediate relief from septic and other pollution sources.

ALL OF THESE PROJECTS ARE BEING PAID FOR BY YOUR WONDERFUL DONATIONS! As one HTO Board member has noted, our payment to a consultant to achieve a multi-million dollar grant represents a "1000% return on the money invested in the consultant."

There are a few days left in 2017 to donate to Heal the Ocean, and we hope you will take this opportunity to jump aboard as we sail into 2018.

Thank you and we wish you all a peaceful, happy New Year! 

ABOUT THE FIRES

AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME: SOME PRAYERS

Summerland Beach, Photo by Heather Hudson

Summerland Beach, Photo by Heather Hudson

Dear HTO Supporters:
 
For more than a week, we have watched aghast at the devastation of the fires that have destroyed home and property across Southern California. We have heard from friends in San Diego who have lost their homes, and from friends and loved ones who remained hunkered down for over a week, ready to evacuate the Skirball Fire in West Los Angeles/Brentwood area at a moment’s notice.

And now we are in the middle of the Thomas Fire that still rages in Santa Barbara County. After carving a path of horror through Ventura, this fire has been breathing a horrific, relentless path of destruction on us all in Santa Barbara. Day and night we watch our brave firefighters pushing back this inferno with a line of fire visible at night in the mountains of Santa Barbara. We wait and we watch and we pray for these brave warriors, that they remain strong and safe. We pray for the animals who depend on humans for rescue. We mourn the devastation and loss. We look at this photograph of the ocean, taken by HTO board member Heather Hudson at Summerland Beach, and it is a powerfully sad picture of Nature in pain. We pray for Her ability to survive and repair. To this end, Heal the Ocean stays at the ready, to help.

We wish peace, safety and healing to everyone.

With love from All of Us at Heal the Ocean.
 

SB 44 Passes! Oil to be Cleaned Up!

SB 44 HAS PASSED!
THE OIL WILL BE CLEANED UP!

WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU, OUR WONDERFUL SUPPORTERS!

Governor Jerry Brown has responded to the amazing outpouring of support from residents of Summerland, Santa Barbara, and across California as well as an army of Heal the Ocean supporters in favor of SB44 (Jackson) by signing the bill into law!

This legislation will provide $2 million per year to cap leaking oil wells off the coast of California for the next 7 years, starting in 2018. Heal the Ocean "dogged" this legislation through every single House and Senate committee, calling for HTO members to write letters and cards every single step of the way. You all came through! 

We are told that the aerial survey commissioned by HTO and completed byAqueos Subsea and Planck Aerosystems just in time for a critical vote, had much to do with SB44 getting to the Governor's desk. The aerial survey pinpointed definite oil-capping targets, and took away doubt and guessing. The Planck Aerosystems aerial survey will now be followed by a dive survey by Aqueos Subsea - all of this possible because of generous funding from Manitou Fund, Minnesota, the family foundation ofSummerland resident Nora McNeely Hurley.

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February 2017: HTO Offers Assistance to RWQCB “Human Right to Water” Initiative

Responding to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's roll out of its "Human Right to Water" program, Heal the Ocean attended its hearing in Santa Barbara at the end of January and offered assistance to implementing the program. 

Specifically we offered to pay for staff support in the following three areas:

Map drinking water impacts - particularly the development of regionwide GIS maps to identify areas where public and domestic drinking water wells are impacted by common pollutants (e.g. nitrate);

Upload groundwater data to Geotracker;

Well data management for Santa Barbara County drinking water wells.

Such assistance is not new to HTO. In 2013, when all of the City of Santa Barbara paper reports on contaminated groundwater were transferred to the Regional Board from the Hazmat/Site Mitigation Unit operating with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, we provided a Cal Poly intern to work in Regional Board's San Luis Obispo office to scan the reports into the State Water Board's Geotracker program. That intern, Sarah Treadwell is now a full-time environmental engineer with the Regional Board.

Many thanks to our own Corey Radis for her excellent presentation to the Board!

January 2017: HTO Undertakes Aerial Survey of Summerland Oil Field

January is off to an exciting start for Heal the Ocean, as we have just acquired the funding to begin an aerial survey of the Summerland Oil Field. This survey will be completed by Aqueos, a renowned subsea service contractor, under the careful oversight of the California State Lands Commission. 

The purpose of this survey is to identify priority areas for cleanup and/or capping in the abandoned Summerland Oil Field. Summerland accounts for 190 of 198 of California's abandoned, or "legacy" wells, and many believe improperly capped wells are the source of Summerland's frequent oil woes, ranging from bad smelling air to unswimmable beaches. Our hope is that this survey will lead to an underwater investigation of priority "hotspots" in the Summerland area, and to cleanup and capping of any identified problem wells that exist. 

While initiating this survey, which we hope will begin in February, HTO will concurrently be joining local lobbying efforts for the passage of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's SB44 bill. This bill can bring in $2 million per year for the cleanup of legacy oil wells along the California Coast, funding that is desperately needed. 

To read our letter of intent to Aqueos, please click here. To read our full press release, please click here.

Many thanks to Nora McNeely Hurley and the Manitou Fund for making this survey possible, and to all who have worked so hard to clean up Summerland. We at HTO are looking forward to taking the next step all together!