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!

Fiesta Infographic_No Confetti.png


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.