August 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter:

  • Viva la Fiesta! But Watch out for Confetti!
  • HTO Funds a Remedy for Summerland Homeless Problem
  • City Groundwater Cleanup Gathers Speed
  • HTO Cheers Montecito Sanitary District Recycled Water Pilot Project
  • “Fun in the Sun” Art Show by HTO's Ruston Slager
  • The Biltmore Cup - a One-Hour Mad Dash for Ocean Charity
  • SCAPE Online Art Sale - Catch it While You Can!



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. 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. Try to avoid it - and maybe use your best efforts to ask vendors if the confetti in their cascarones are "por favor el papel." Paper, please!

Meanwhile, Heal the Ocean operations coordinator Alison Thompson created a groovy little flyer that's going around town on this subject. Pleasedownload and share to help us get the word out!

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  Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

Drone picture of Summerland homeless camp 2017.

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.


On Monday, July 30, 2018, Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser appeared before a board meeting of the Montecito Sanitary District to lend 100% support for the District to move forward with a Recycled Water Project that will install on MSD property a Micro Pulse Flow Reverse Osmosis Skid. IDE Technology, builder of desalination plants and other industrial installations around the world (and which rebuilt the City of Santa Barbara's Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant) - will build the MSD project, which, when finished, will be capable of producing 6,400 gallons per day of Title 22+ recycled water for onsite reuse by the District. Title 22 "Plus" is a better quality than standard "purple pipe" water, and MSD plans to test the water on landscaping - flowers, lawns, hedges - with help from the Garden Club of Montecito. Heal the Ocean has worked for years on ways to help MSD get together with Montecito Water District on a joint State-supported project to upgrade the MSD wastewater plant to a recycled water plant, to produce water for irrigation (and thereby saving hundreds of gallons of potable water for its intended use) but the Water District would not agree. We see the IDE project as a positive forward move!


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Heal the Ocean has tackled contaminated groundwater sites since our inception, spending years identifying particular contaminants and going through old records of monitoring wells and soil borings. We collaborated with Santa Barbara County Hazmat and the Regional Water Quality Control Board Hazmat section to organize information into the State’s Geotracker database, which has made it possible for the Regional Board to methodically prioritize sites for cleanup. It took us a while to get there, but we are amazed at the number of cleanup and monitoring orders coming in - four in July alone. HTO is copied on these orders, and we are gratified to see the fruition of our collaboration. 

Among the Santa Barbara addresses receiving orders for cleanup, monitoring, or investigation in July:



Ruston Slager has been with Heal the Ocean since our inception. In fact, Ruston started Heal the Ocean by organizing the August 1998 demonstration on the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, which led to HTO being founded. Ruston has many talents, one of which is painting....and on First Thursday, August 2, 2018 (tomorrow!) you are invited to the "Fun in the Sun" Art Show featuring Ruston's watercolors and pastels. Reception party is from 5-8 pm, and the show runs August 1-31, 2018 at the Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery West. Ruston is donating 50% of all sales to Heal the Ocean. Thank you, Ruston!


 Photo by Geoff Robinson

Photo by Geoff Robinson

On Sunday, August 26, 2018, a wild ocean-paddling race will be staged by members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and Coral Casino to raise money for a Santa Barbara ocean group. Entrants will meet at the Yacht Club for a breakfast and briefing, pay their entry fees ($20/$30) into a single pot and at the same time cast their vote for one of four ocean groups in Santa Barbara. The paddlers will then take off from the Yacht Club at about 10:45 a.m. on paddleboards, surfboards, kayaks, canoes - anything that floats and is human-powered - and make a mad ocean dash to the Coral Casino. The race is over by 12:45 at which time an after-race lunch celebration at the Coral Casino will take place and the winner of the pot will be announced. We hope it's Heal the Ocean - we're one of the four groups selected to possibly win the stakes of this wonderful, madcap race! We'll be at the Coral Casino at our table, and we look forward to seeing everyone there! Click here for entry form and for more info. Thank you!


 Virginia Kamhi “Butterfly Beach Reflections”

Virginia Kamhi “Butterfly Beach Reflections”

The great party by SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) for Heal the Ocean goes on! See the paintings - which are still for sale online. For two weeks, from Wednesday, August 1 through Wednesday, August 15, you can purchase any artwork from the SCAPE show at list price. Scroll through the list of artwork here, then email Alison Thompson at the HTO office ( to arrange purchase and instructions on getting the work to you.

July 2018 E-Letter Special Edition: Heal the Ocean Gets City Styrofoam Ban Tightened at City Council

 Hillary Hauser asks Council to limit exemption clause on Styrofoam ban (photo by Alison Thompson)

Hillary Hauser asks Council to limit exemption clause on Styrofoam ban (photo by Alison Thompson)

IT WAS A GREAT DAY IN CITY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY. The Council voted to restrict plastic straws - after a heart-warming plea from beautiful children as well as heartfelt requests from physically challenged members of the community who told the Council they needed straws to have access to food/drink like everyone else…(the plastic straw regulation includes provisions for physically challenged people to have access to straws). HTO told Council that while we really wanted a total ban, we support the “ask-only” regulation because such regulation is said to reduce straw use by 80% or even 90%. We asked that straw-use numbers be checked a year after the Ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
But when it came to Styrofoam, the Council voted an outright ban, and this ban includes important language only Heal the Ocean insisted on.
As written, the proposed Ordinance on Styrofoam contained an exemption clause that would have given food retailers the ability to plead “hardship” every year. If they could prove Styrofoam was better for their product (i.e. Smoothies), or that changing to a more environmentally-friendly product would cause economic hardship, they could carry on with Styrofoam.
HEAL THE OCEAN challenged this language. We asked the City Council to change the wording to ONE YEAR and no more. As a result of our request City Council began to parse the word “hardship,” and in the end, City Council voted 7-0 to change the Ordinance to read that after one year, “hardship” cases will not be renewed. This means the Styrofoam ban is more like a real ban – and we salute the City Council for agreeing with us. The Styrofoam ban also goes into effect January 1, 2019.

Heal the Ocean Takes on Styrofoam and Straws



On Tuesday, July 17, 2018, the Santa Barbara City Council will vote on two Ordinances (styrofoam and plastic straws) important to all who love the ocean and the creatures that live in the ocean:

  • To ban the sale or use of Styrofoam in the city, and
  • To restrict ("ask only") on single use straws and plastic cutlery.

Heal the Ocean asks you to please come to the City Council meeting, which begins at 2 p.m. to urge the Council to ban Styrofoam and restrict straws.

Over 500,000 million straws are used (and discarded) every day in the U.S. Many big companies have banned single-use plastic straws outright: Starbucks, Ikea, Hyatt Hotels, American Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Hilton, and other hotel chains. Click here to see the national recognition of the need to fight plastic pollution from straws – the harm to marine life from these plastics is well documented. The least Santa Barbara can do is implement an “ask only” ordinance. Statistics reveal “ask only” restrictions can reduce straw use by 80-90%; at least it’s a start!

As for Styrofoam, it NEVER goes away, and sea animals ingest it. Please ask the Council to ban Styrofoam outright - no special conditions for companies claiming they need time to change. In the proposed Ordinance on Styrofoam, City Council should delete the “Exemptions” Clause 9.160.070.

Other businesses across the nation, especially smoothie businesses, stopped using Styrofoam years ago and are now using compostable products that are superior to Styrofoam. In Hawaii, Lanikai Juice and Jamba Juice use PLA (plant-based Polylactic acid) compostable cold cups – made of corn starch and sugar cane which insulates both cold and hot drinks very well.

  Jamba Juice smoothies in compostable plastic cups.

Jamba Juice smoothies in compostable plastic cups.

Other smoothie companies that have stopped using Styrofoam cups include Robeks (since 2013) and Smoothie King, which switched to recyclable plastic cups in response to their customers’ request for more eco-friendly materials.

The exemption clause in Santa Barbara’s proposed Styrofoam ordinance would allow one of the city’s most visible smoothie businesses to continue using Styrofoam, such that it would appear we would have an ordinance with no teeth. Also, we wouldn’t imagine that a major smoothie business would want to appear as an environmental pariah while everyone else has moved forward.

Every voice and opinion matters, use yours to help end the plastic pollution epidemic on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

If you can't attend, click here to download a letter (we encourage you to personalize it!) you can copy and paste it in an email to the Council at  Please send by Monday, July 16, 2018.

Thank you! 

June 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter:

  • City Ordinance Committee Moves to Ban Styrofoam and Possibly Put a Dent in Plastic Straws
  • State Lands Commission Moving Forward with Next 3 Summerland Wells
  • Regional Board to get Update on HTO/RWQCB Groundwater Assessment
  • HTO’s Alison Thompson Received 2018 McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship
  • Heal the Ocean’s Trio of Upcoming Events
  • Dogs of the Month: Boss and Maggie!


  These are biodegradable cups that can take the place of Styrofoam

These are biodegradable cups that can take the place of Styrofoam

Heal the Ocean salutes the City of Santa Barbara Ordinance Committee, which on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, voted to ban the sale and use of Styrofoam in the city. With some Committee members citing serious ocean pollution caused by Styrofoam and other plastics, they were in 100% agreement on the Styrofoam ban, but put the final vote on hold until the next Ordinance committee meeting on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – a week delay – so that they could consider rolling into the ban an “ask only” regulation on plastic straws and cutlery as well. We applaud the Committee for these decisions – it is an important step that Santa Barbara can take to remove itself from being a contributor to the plastic ocean waste epidemic.

However, the Committee is considering Exemptions to the ban – to businesses claiming “hardship” in abandoning Styrofoam. Heal the Ocean has written the Committee, taking strong exception to such Exemptions. Blenders in the Grass has asked for an exemption, stating that their smoothies become “runny” in anything but Styrofoam. We have checked with the Kokua Foundation in Hawaii (formed by Jack & Kim Johnson, who also head the Johnson Ohana Foundation, which fights the use of plastic worldwide), and have learned in Hawaii Lanikai Juice and Jamba Juice moved away from Styrofoam some time ago. Both use compostable cold cups made of PLA (plant-based Polylactic acid) – made of corn starch and sugar cane and which insulates both cold and hot drinks very well.

Also since the Tuesday hearing, HTO has learned (from Marborg, as well as mailing centers that formerly accepted Styrofoam “peanuts” to reuse for shipping) that Styrofoam cannot be reused and cannot be recycled in Santa Barbara – it goes into the landfill, i.e., the environment.

Please attend the Ordinance meeting on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at 12:30PM in the Council Chamber of City Hall, to cheer the Committee for banning Styrofoam – but without exemptions– and thank the panel for curtailing the use of plastic straws.

And if you receive Styrofoam packaging in any shipment, take out your item(s) and send the box back, with the Styrofoam, to where it came from.


  HTO/Planck Aerosystems study identified leaking wells off Summerland

HTO/Planck Aerosystems study identified leaking wells off Summerland

On Thursday, June 21, 2018 (please note this date correction), HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser will travel to Sonoma, Calif., to attend the State Lands Commission hearing, where she will lend applause when SLC petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran gives the Commission a report on the successful capping of Becker Well on Summerland Beach, completed in February 2018. She will also encourage 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, which includes permanent
abandonment of up to three leaking wells off Summerland. (Read HTO’s letter to the Commission here.

HTO thanks the State Lands Commission for its magnificent work to get these wells capped so that we can swim off Summerland Beach again!


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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.


  Alison Thompson

Alison Thompson

HTO Operations Coordinator, Alison Thompson a graduate from UCSB with a BA in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in marine science and policy, has been awarded the 2018 McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship. The scholarship has been established in the name of retired Environmental Studies faculty member, Marc McGinnes in recognition of his decades of service to the Environmental Studies Program at UCSB, as well as in the community along the lines of environmental advocacy, protection, law, and leadership. The award recognizes a graduating senior with outstanding academic achievement who has demonstrated passion and aptitude for environmental law and advocacy.

Alison received this award Friday, June 15, 2018, at the Environmental Studies Program’s 2018 Commencement Reception and Awards Program.

CONGRATULATIONS, ALISON, we're proud of you!



HTO PC Digital UseREV.jpeg

On Wednesday, July 25, 2018, from noon-8:00pm the Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) is exhibiting at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum a fabulous collection of sea paintings under the banner, “Heal the Ocean One Painting at a Time.” This exhibit and art sale, to benefit HTO, will feature live music, wine, hors d'oeuvres, a raffle, and is free to the public. And it's in the Santa Barbara Harbor, a very fun place to be! We'll see you there....Thank you, SCAPE!


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On Thursday, August 23, 2018, the Red Piano is hosting Heal the Ocean for a night of great entertainment with pianist Jason Libs and fantastic drinks will be mixed and served by our celebrity guest bartenders at Happy Hour with Heal the Ocean. Stay tuned for updates on our special musical party!


HTO Benefit Logo 2018.JPG

Heal the Ocean is 20 years old on August 28, 2018! So our Annual Benefit this year, being held Saturday, October 27, 2018, at the El Paseo Restaurantin downtown Santa Barbara will be a special 20th Anniversary Celebration Benefit! Come celebrate with us 20 years of ocean healing with good friends, comradery and joy, along with great Mexican cuisine, a few fantastic auction items, and captivating entertainment. Save The Date cards are going out now, and please call the office if you want to get on the guest list NOW. If you are interested in finding out more or sponsoring our event, please contact Alison Thompson at our office at (805) 965-7570 or


 Boss and Maggie

Boss and Maggie

HTO sends a big bark-out to Boss & Maggie, who made a nice contribution to Heal the Ocean's doggy bag program, which provides compostable dog bags to beaches and parks in the Santa Barbara South Coast. Boss & Maggie are the "children" of Dwight and Kimberley Lowell, who spend many days helping at animal shelters, and rescuing - and helping us. If you would like to join HTO's dog bag program, click here, and don’t forget to send uspicture(s) of your beloved pooch!

World Oceans Day 2018 E-Letter



Friday, June 8, is World Oceans Day! Designated in 2008 by the United Nations as a day to celebrate, protect, and honor the great big blue ocean we all love (and need to sustain life on earth). We can all get involved - very easily - because this year's theme is plastic pollution. Right now you can do the following:

Ditch the Straw

plastic straws on beach.jpg

Every day, over 500 million plastic straws are tossed out in the U.S. They blow in the wind, eventually to the ocean, where fish, seabirds, turtles mistake them for food. They do not biodegrade or dissolve in the ocean but break down into smaller and smaller microplastics that remain for hundreds of years. When you order a drink, remember to say "No straws please!" (You have to ask while you're ordering, once it's brought to you, it's too late.) Some restaurants are placing placards on tables telling customers they have to ask for a straw if they want one). 

(Use Your Noodles!)

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A new idea being adopted by forward-thinking restaurants (at least Italian ones): use long, thin, tubular pasta as straws! The word is that drinks are cold, so “pasta paste” isn’t created. Try it –noodle straws- molto bene!

Lastly, bring your own reusable straw made of metal, glass or bamboo...or that big, long noodle!

Reject the Plastic Bottle

plastic bottle.jpg

This is a no-brainer! By the time you're drinking water out of a plastic bottle it's been shipped in hot trucks and/or container ships, and often they're exhibited outside grocery store entrances on big stacks of palettes, in the sun. All this means the water you're drinking out of these things has been cooked in plastic - UGH! Use a flask instead. They come in great colors and designs - and are WAY cooler than a plastic water bottle. While you're at it, buy products in glass containers.

Filter Your Fleece


We thought fleece jackets were so fabulous when they came booming onto the market - what a great way to use old plastic bottles! Ooooh, and they're soft and warm. Wait a minute, what? It turns out that such garments - and blankets - are sources of microfiber pollution - shed from synthetic garments such as nylon, polyester, or acrylic. The fibers shed in the washing machine, go down the drain, and wastewater treatment systems can't always catch them. They end up in the stomachs of sea animals andwork their way up the food chain into humans(Holy cow!) We'd say consider dry cleaning, but this will melt your jacket! So it's back to washing. Solution? Throw these items into a fiber filter bag before washing. The bag (available from specialty stores) collects the microfibers (like lint!), you can scoop this lint out of the bag and discard with care.

Check the Cosmetics


"Experience a micro-burst for glowing skin!" "Scrubbing beads will transform you!" etc. Microbeads, which share the same bad genes with microfibers, may scrub your skin smooth or, used in toothpaste, make your teeth white, but they are plastic - and even more lethal to ocean life - because they resemble plankton. Microbeads have been banned in the U.S. (Microbead-Free Waters Act passed in 2015), but cosmetics containing them are still being phased out and you will still find such cosmetics for sale. StartingJuly 1, 2018, the microbead law bans rinse-off cosmetics in interstate commerce and also stops the manufacture of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals containing microbeads. So, don't buy microbead products! Try a loofah sponge instead...(a natural one of course)!


There! You have all these useful ways to
participate in World Oceans Day - every day!

Thank you for celebrating with us.

May 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • CEC Report - One Step Closer to Recycled Water
  • Santa Barbara Contaminated Sites Getting the Heave-Ho
  • Look Ma! Plastic Turns to Horse Feed for Beach Cleanups
  • A Big Barkout to HTO Dogs for Buying Bags


In our campaign to reduce waste(d)water flowing into the ocean, Heal the Ocean has been working on the recycled water issue for many years. A part of that work has been to get into the issue of Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) that are not removed by secondary wastewater treatment methods. CECs are pharmaceuticals, chemicals found in personal care products and other contaminants that wash down the drain. They must be removed from recycled water intended for human use. To tackle the CEC problem, the State Water Resources Control Board commissioned the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) in Costa Mesa, California, and in 2010 expert panels began meeting to wrestle with the CEC subject. HTO attended a number of these panel discussions in person and by webinar, and we read draft reports and made input both long and short. The final 178-page report, Monitoring Strategies for Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) in Recycled Water: Recommendations of a Science Advisory Panel was released May 10, 2018 and is now posted on Heal the Ocean’s website.



There has been a lot of action with shallow groundwater cleanup in the City of Santa Barbara!

Heal the Ocean has tackled contaminated groundwater sites since our inception, spending years identifying particular contaminants and going through old records of monitoring wells and soil borings. We collaborated with Santa Barbara County Hazmat and the Regional Water Quality Control Board Hazmat section to organize information into the State’s Geotracker database, which has made it possible for the Regional Board to methodically prioritize sites for cleanup. The cleanup orders continue to come in, HTO is copied on these orders, and we are gratified to see the fruition of our collaboration.  

Among the Santa Barbara addresses receiving orders for cleanup, or in the process of cleanup are (click the live link to read the Regional Board order):


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For our annual Earth Day beach cleanup with EF International Language School in April, Jack and Kim Johnson's Kokua Foundation directors suggested we use horse feed bags instead of plastic for our beach cleanups. EF Language School Volunteership Coordinator/Community Outreach director Susanne Heirling, Santa Barbara, jumped on the idea immediately and went to La Cumbre Feed to ask for bags, and bingo, away with plastic! The feed bags are about the size of a garbage bag but are made of sturdier material. La Cumbre Feed continues to supply - and we now have a huge supply. We distribute these bags to community members for cleanups and we now offer them to fellow environmental organizations in Santa Barbara, to share these bags with as many people and organizations as possible. If you or an organization you work with would like to pick up feed bags,please contact Alison Thompson at Heal the Ocean by calling (805) 965-7570, or email ( This isn't horse feed, it's the real deal!


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In early May, we heard from Aye'la, a long-time beach-loving pooch who has been supporting Heal the Ocean's Doggy Bag Program for years. She had another donation for us. We are grateful for Aye'la's help and for our dog bag dispenser sponsors as well as the many contributors who donate to our Doggy Bag Program. Just $60 buys 1,000 compostable bags (non-plastic!) - and your dog can donate in his or her name. Please send your furry donor's picture so we can post on our website. Please click here to get into the pack. Thank you!

April 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • Going After Septic Regulations in Sacramento
  • New Operations Coordinator Alison Thompson
  • State Lands Hangs HTO Art
  • Summerland Oil Capping…What’s Next?
  • Visit us at Earth Day-Make Commitment to Everyday Green
  • Annual EF International Beach Cleanup Set for April 20, 2018


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In February 2018, Heal the Ocean and Heal the Bay, Santa Monica, got notice from the State Water Resources Control Board that it was planning to approve 5-year waivers & TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) List Amendments to extend timelines for corrective actions as outlined in the regulations under AB 885, the septic system law authored by then-Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson in 2000. The regulations under AB 885 were fought for by Heal the Ocean and Heal the Bay in 2012. On April 5, 2018, our two organizations registered our objections to many of the proposed new deadlines for corrective action for septic systems operating in waters identified as polluted from Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS). On Friday, April 13, 2018, just four days before the State Board hearing on April 17, we received an entirely new staff report that incorporated changes that addressed nearly ALL our concerns. This makes us happy! Both our organizations will now proceed to chase down polluting septic systems in our perspective regions that are not on the waiver list.



We are excited to welcome Alison Thompson aboard as our new Operations Coordinator! “Ali” is responsible for keeping our office and programs running smoothly, and she will also assist on policy research and advocacy. Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, Ali has always been an ocean lover and conservation activist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, focusing her studies on marine science and policy. She has worked with non-profits in Washington, D.C. and with research labs in Santa Barbara in areas of marine conservation. In her free time, Ali can be found at the beach with her dogs or exploring the tide pools.



Maybe it’s the bright red fish on the cover of HTO’s recent newsletter that caught their eye - it’s a copy of an original work of art that hangs on the wall of the patron who bought it from HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, who painted it. But, when the graphics director of the California State Lands Commission (SLC) contacted us for permission to enlarge both the cover AND our 2-page story of the work we did to cap the leakingBecker Well on Summerland beach to create a wall hanging, we were truly honored. The SLC representative explained that this creation will be displayed in a private office as a tribute to the Becker success, because the agency had been struggling for many years to get this work accomplished.


 Image from Planck Aerosystems aerial survey/Gaemus Collins

Image from Planck Aerosystems aerial survey/Gaemus Collins

Heal the Ocean has learned from Steve Curran, State Lands Commission Drilling Engineer, that the Commission has picked for its second Summerland oil cleanup project the offshore well called “off the rock pile” (Rock Pile) - so named for the fact the leaking well is located in shallow water just off the east end of the beach where a jumble of rocks marks the shoreline. Curran said preliminary surveying (underwater) will begin in July, at the beginning of the State’s Fiscal Year 2018/2019, with funding coming from SB 44, state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s legislation that provides for $2 million per year for oil well cleanup. Curran says the Rock Pile project will use the same equipment and methods as the Becker capping - the barge and cofferdam brought in from Long Beach. It was identified in thePlanck Aerosystems survey commissioned by Heal the Ocean and funded by Manitou Fund, Minnesota. Some Summerland advocates are rumbling that Treadwell should be next in line, because it is causing a bigger mess on the beach, but Treadwell is an old well punched into a shallow earthquake fault, and involves infinitely more complicated technology to fix. Nevertheless, Heal the Ocean is staying on top of this one, to make sure it stays in front of SLC attention.


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Heal the Ocean will have a booth at the 48th annual Earth Day celebration in Alameda Park on Saturday and Sunday April 21-22, so please stop by to say hello, and to shop for our cool Heal the Ocean gear—t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, sweatshirts, and boxes of “Fantastic Fishes” (c) note cards! Come learn about our most recent projects, and also follow us on Facebook(Heal the Ocean) and Instagram (@healtheoceansb) to stay updated on our ocean work.
But most importantly, make your own personal commitment to do what you can - every day - to help, by doing some or all of the following:

  • Read labels on cleaning agents - if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Wastewater plants that are not full tertiary can’t process these chemicals (neither can septic systems), and so they end up in the environment;
  • Avoid “anti-bacteria” lotions and other products, especially tryclosan (use alcohol-based hand cleaners, and wash your hands often instead);
  • Refuse take-home food in styrofoam containers (ask for aluminum foil instead);
  • Remember to ask WHILE ordering drinks or water that you choose not to have a (plastic) straw;
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!


2017 EF Earth Day 3.jpg

EF International Language School’s Santa Barbara campus and Heal the Ocean, are going at it again with 300 students coming together on April 20, 2018 to tackle 10 beaches between Goleta and Summerland through beach cleanups! This is the third year in a row that HTO and EF International have partnered in the massive coastal cleanup, and this year it is again serving as a great start to EF International's Ocean & Environmental Awareness campaign entitled “Every Day is Earth Day.” Heal the Ocean kicked off the program with HTO’s Corey Radis speaking to students about the importance of keeping our beaches clean and safe.

On Friday, EF Santa Barbara will close its doors so that all staff, teachers, and students can participate. Heal the Ocean will be supplying HTO T-shirts and gloves for the beach cleanups. This year, for the first time, students will use old horse feed bags provided by La Cumbre Feed instead of plastic trash bags to reduce waste. After the cleanup, Heal the Ocean Executive Director Hillary Hauser will join Santa Barbara City Councilmember Gregg Hart and EF Santa Barbara School Director Kristen Reilly to address the students on ocean issues and commend their great Earth Day work. 

We look forward to seeing our EF friends on Friday and appreciate their time, dedication, and efforts that help us to keep our beaches trash free!

March 2018 E-Letter

In this E-Letter…

  • 2018 Newsletter – HOT OFF THE PRESS! 
  • Jonathan Wygant re-joins HTO Board
  • Volunteers Tackle Debris Cleanup on Summerland Beach
  • Fantastic Fishes Cards Now Available on HTO website


Heal the Ocean’s 20th annual newsletter has hit the press – and will be arriving in your mailbox soon! This year’s newsletter features a cover painting by HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, from her series “Fantastic Fishes©.” The pages of the newsletter are filled with montages of many pictures from the past 20 years, along with stories from the Montecito Mudslide, the capping of Becker Well, and other HTO happenings. Click here to read the PDF version of the newsletter, or email to be added to our snail-mail list. Hooozah!


We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Wygant (a founding HTO Board member) back to our Board of Directors! Jonathan is CEO and founder of BigSpeak, Inc. the largest business-oriented agency/consultancy in North America focused on serving the Fortune 1000 and multinational companies worldwide.  BigSpeak provides inspirational speakers, thought leaders and subject matter experts to corporate event, and also facilitates strategic change initiatives and executive development programs through BigSpeak Consulting. Before founding BigSpeak, Jonathan was the CEO and co-founder of Iris Arc Crystal, an Inc. 500 international giftware manufacturing company headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. While at Iris Arc, he built the company to 5000 accounts, 120 employees and 135 sales reps nationwide.


From mid-February to mid-March, 2018,  volunteers organized by concerned citizen Claire Yusingco gathered at Summerland Beach to haul off the piles of debris that washed ashore after the January 9th Montecito Mudslide. Volunteers are working with the County Park rangers to take truckloads of debris up to a dumpster. These hard workers filled not 1, but 2(!) dumpsters, and have plans to carry on additional cleanups. If you are interested in helping future debris cleanups at Summerland beach, email Thank you, Claire Yusingco!



Hillary Hauser’s books on marine life and underwater adventure include Skin Diver Magazine’s Book of Fishes, compiled from a monthly feature Hillary wrote for the magazine over many years. She got to know marine fishes down to every gill and stripe, so began to paint them. Her “Fantastic Fishes©” art has been exhibited in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and of the 200+ pieces she created during her painting days, Hillary sold most of them.

Available now in HTO’s online store: - Gift boxes of Fantastic Fishes Cards, 8 images to a box, with envelopes and complete with the popular Pufferfish on the cover of the box, tied with black elastic bow. These make great gifts! $15.00 per box.


Just as Abe Powell’s Bucket Brigade has consistently and steadily dug the mud out of house after house in Montecito, with volunteers working “with their own two hands,” as Ben Harper and Jack Johnson sang at Jack’s Bowl concert on Sunday, March 18, the same goes for our beaches, which have been badly battered by the recent storms. Each pair of hands can do much! And nobody has to wait for an official organized beach cleanup to make this happen. Come by the HTO Office and get a pair of sturdy gloves and strong garbage bag, and that next beach you drive by, POUNCE on it, with your own two hands...and let’s see how fast the beaches start to sparkle again! Email for your gloves and bags.


  Photo by Heather Hudson

Photo by Heather Hudson

Summerland Beach was a scene of great joy this morning (Monday, February 26, 2018), as the 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.

Under SB 44 (Hannah-Beth Jackson), there will be $2 million per year to tackle leaking, derelict wells and structures along the California Coast. To prepare for specific projects, and with funds provided by Manitou Fund, Minnesota, HTO hired Aqueos, Ventura, to conduct an aerial survey of the wells offshore Summerland. The results of the aerial survey identified four distinct wells, and HTO’s plan with Aqueos has been to follow that survey with a dive survey, so that offshore contractors can know exactly the requirements to cap these underwater structures.

We learned today while watching the Becker operation that part of the Becker project is a requirement for an underwater survey, to ensure that the capping is complete. State Lands petroleum drilling engineer Steve Curran told us this morning that there is enough funding from Becker to not only do the underwater examination of this well – but the others, too. That saves HTO a lot of money…which will go to other cleanup projects we have on our plate, courtesy of Manitou Fund. We thank Michael and Nora McNeely Hurley of Manitou for this invaluable support. The Hurleys were at the Becker capping today, and there were many reasons to celebrate.


Becker Well Project Going Forward Next Week!


  Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley taken mid-February, 2018

Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley taken mid-February, 2018

Heal the Ocean just heard from the contractors who are capping the infamous leaking Becker Well on Summerland Beach that the project is going forward! The InterAct barge will arrive off Summerland Beach on Monday, February 26, 2018 - next week - and the operation will begin! 

It is estimated that the capping project will take 3 to 4 days to accomplish. Heal the Ocean will be there to cheer on the oil field workers, to celebrate with champagne this very important project to clean the ocean off Summerland, and we thank the State Lands Commission officials for listening to all our pleadings to get this most important work done. 


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!

FOR FEBRUARY 26 (2).jpg

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.


  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.



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. 


  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.


 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


  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.



  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:

HTO MJ JAN2018-1.jpg

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


  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:

Mud Channel Drive-biltmore.JPG

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
Thanks to everyone who has come forward to encourage us. We need it, too!


  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!


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 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


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.


  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.



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).


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.


Becky - Copy.jpg

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.



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!


  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!


... 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! 



 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!



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.