March 2019 E-Letter

In this E-Letter:

  • Former S.B. County EHS Director Rick Merrifield Joins HTO Advisory Board

  • Retired County Fire Chief Eric Peterson Joins HTO Advisory Board

  • Planning Next Move on Summerland Oil

  • A (Shocking) New Truth About Recycling

  • HTO Accepting Styrofoam Waste

  • SB 332 Aims to Cut Wastewater Disposal into CA Ocean & Estuaries

  • New, Non-Intrusive Technology to Fix Your Sewer Lateral

  • EF International/HTO Beach Cleanup Program Starts in Honolulu

  • Cate School Cleans Carpinteria Beach

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus to Re-up her Great Role as Honorary Chair of HTO's 2019 Benefit


Rick Merrifield

Rick Merrifield

Heal the Ocean is proud to announce that Rick Merrifield, former director of Santa Barbara County’s Environmental Health Services, has joined our Advisory Board - and has already begun important work to help as a consultant on septic system issues. During his tenure as EHS director, Rick worked closely with HTO for years on septic pollution problems, including the South Coast Beach Communities Septic to Sewer Project. Most notably, Rick came to our rescue as we muddled through with Heal the Bay, Santa Monica, the difficult process of working with State Water Resources Control Board staff in crafting language for AB 885 – septic system regulations for the State of California. His input was a major contributor to the adoption of AB 885 regulations in June 2012.

Rick is presently helping HTO with his expert edit of the HTO-sponsored Groundwater Characterization Project: Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin report, which has been stuck in the review process at the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for too long (in our estimation). The report is needed to gauge septic system pollution of the Santa Ynez Valley groundwater basin, with suspected sources including Los Olivos, Janin Acres, and Ballard. Rick's edits and comments have been sent to the Regional Board with our request for action.


Eric Peterson

Eric Peterson

With bells and sirens, Heal the Ocean also welcomes Santa Barbara County Fire Chief (ret) Eric Peterson, to Heal the Ocean's Advisory Board. Peterson had been with County Fire for 32 years before he retired in 2018, making him a veteran of the Painted Cave, Zaca, Tea, Jesusita, Gap, Sherpa, Alamo, Rey, Whittier, Thomas, and Holiday Fires. With fire being the "new normal" for California, environmental issues come up for the handling of these disasters, and Eric Peterson's skill, leadership, and experience will help us with no-nonsense environmental decision-making on these issues. Thank you, Eric!


Photo/graphics by Harry Rabin

Photo/graphics by Harry Rabin

As the State Lands Commission (SLC) moves toward its June/July planning for the capping of the next leaking Summerland oil wells, HTO Advisory Board members Harry Rabin and Nora McNeely-Hurley are putting their heads together on what they are observing by drone (Rabin) and daily observation (McNeely-Hurley). Rabin, who is in contact with State Lands officials about what he is seeing by drone, is also communicating with a UCSB researcher who is able to scientifically identify spilled oil with its source(s). The above image shows how Rabin is working to pinpoint locations, and with Nora McNeely-Hurley's generous offer of financial help from her family foundation, Manitou, for science help, HTO's hope is that their diligent work will help SLC plan out the contracting work that is to come.


four Rs.jpg

"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has become a mantra around the country, and most cities have instituted curbside pickup for plastics, cardboard, and other recyclables.
But an alarming article recently published in The Atlantic explains how recycling facilities are having a hard time keeping up with the amount of waste they receive--China no longer accepts America's waste, recycled or not. Even eco-cities like San Francisco are having a problem with what to do with waste.

The ultimate answer is to reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying less--way less.
In response to this problem, zero-waste communities have sprung up around the U.S.  According to National Geographic, there are uber-conscious citizens producing just ONE JAR of unrecyclable waste per year--even every two years! Individuals and families alike have demonstrated it's possible to reduce their annual trash pile to fit in one eight-ounce Mason jar, compared to the average American's yearly trash pile weighing 1,500 pounds. 
With Americans producing the most trash of all countries - it is time tostart thinking about getting longer use out of what we already have. Do we really need a new phone every year? Do we need to buy that new car, a new television? Can we not take a little glassware to a restaurant for leftovers?
Everyone can play a significant role in eliminating garbage from ever reaching the ocean by adopting the motto, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle--and REFUSE. Refuse to buy, and use what you have.

  • Reduce your plastic footprint by cutting down on your use of goods that come in excessive plastic;

  • Reuse plastics, bags, and other items that you have, and when you can, reuse materials like glass, stainless steel, and wood that have longer lifetimes for use.

  • Lastly, properly recycle what you can’t refuse, reduce, and reuse.



With the passing of the City of Santa Barbara’s Styrofoam ordinance, there is a significant reduction in Styrofoam around town, but unfortunately, it is still out there. You find Styrofoam in the meat departments of grocery stores, and outside of city limits in the form of takeout containers, packing material and the like. If Styrofoam comes to you in any form, please DO NOT throw it in the garbage! Instead, bring your clean and dry Styrofoam containers, blocks, trays, and peanuts to the Heal the Ocean office so we can ship them to be recycled.
We ship the Styrofoam to Foam Fabricators, Inc. in Compton, California, where the foam is repurposed. Bring in any Styrofoam to our office (1430, Chapala Street) and we will handle the rest. (It's helpful to call to schedule a drop off 805-965-7570.) Thank you for helping us to keep foam out of the ocean! Remember, styrofoam never, ever disappears completely - it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until those pieces resemble plankton, which looks like food to marine life.
Note: Styrofoam trays used for meat or produce can be recycled - as long as they are thoroughly washed and dry.



James Hawkins, MMP (HTO Advisory Board Member) and his Inventory of California Wastewater Discharge.

James Hawkins, MMP (HTO Advisory Board Member) and his Inventory of California Wastewater Discharge.

A study published by Heal the Ocean, Santa Barbara, has been credited as a compelling factor in a Senate bill introduced in February 2019, that would require huge reductions in the volume of treated wastewater discharged into the Pacific Ocean and California estuaries.
SB 332, the Local Water Reliability Act, calls on wastewater treatment facilities to step up recycling, conservation, and efficiency to meet reduction targets of 50 percent by 2030 and 95 percent by 2040 for the amount of waste(d)water dumped into the ocean and other water bodies.
In announcing the introduction of SB 332, its authors, Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), cited the amount of waste(d) water going into the ocean based on the groundbreaking studyInventory of Municipal Wastewater Discharges to California Coastal Waters, authored by former HTO Policy Analyst (and now Advisory Board member) James Hawkins, MPP, and published by Heal the Ocean in September 2018.
As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News on February 20, 2019, SB 332 is expected to start the Senate committee review process next month, in April 2019.
Heal the Ocean will be participating in that review process, with our chief concern being that the higher recycling goals would produce an inordinate amount of toxic brine waste, for which there is no feasible technology for disposal. Wastewater plants cannot exceed pollution limits in their discharge permits. The problem of brine waste has been examined by Heal the Ocean in its report, Brine Waste: Issues, Disposal, and Reduction, which presents facts that mean SB 332 may be unattainable as written.


sewer lateral.png

HTO has long worked on the problem of leaking sewer laterals, which, if faulty (or even non-existent), can back up wastewater into the house, leak into the ground/groundwater, and cause other environmental problems. Years ago, we worked with the City of Santa Barbara to create an annual fund to help homeowners pay for inspection and repair, but after a number of successful years (and the annual fund growing from $200k to $900k per year), those funds dried up. Therefore, we welcome the news that the City is ramping up another program for sewer lateral inspection and repair. City Water Resources Manager Joshua Haggmark explains that leaking laterals not only pollute the ground but when they are "roto-rooted" due to tree roots reaching into cracks in the lateral and plugging up wastewater flow, a big clump of roots wind up jamming wastewater works at the plant.  

On this note, former City of Santa Barbara Wastewater Manager Lisa Arroyo has created a sewer lateral service that can fix faulty lateral-pipes with a trenchless method that makes for less mess and expense.

Headquartered in Goleta, Arroyo Trenchless is a licensed general engineering contracting company that focuses on trenchless construction methods to repair, rehabilitate, replace and/or install new underground infrastructure.  The company has a state-of-the-art "sewer trailer" with equipment to perform sewer lateral rehabilitation, spot line repairs, inspection, and cleaning.  Lisa Arroyo, President of Arroyo Trenchless, is a licensed civil engineer and certified by the National Association of Sanitary Sewer Organization (NASSCO) in its Pipeline Assessment Condition Programs. If you are experiencing numerous calls to Roto-Rooter services to free up your pipes (often needed when it rains!), please visit Arroyo Trenchless on its website at or call (805) 699-1717 to learn more about its services. You'll be doing a big service to the ground and groundwater--which all goes to the ocean!


EF International Students on East Beach, Santa Barbara

EF International Students on East Beach, Santa Barbara

The Kokua Hawaii Foundation, the brainchild of Kim (and Jack) Johnson, has thrown its hat into the EF International Language School signature program of massive beach cleanups, following the EF/HTO model of involving many students at one time in tackling a coastal area to pick up what doesn't belong on the beach. EF International's Honolulu campus will join with Kokua for such work in Hawaii, while in Santa Barbara, EF International and HTO are preparing for their fourth annual cleanup of South County beaches on April 12, 2019. EF International, which has campuses around the world, has a large student body in Santa Barbara – 300 students - who will spread out to work on Santa Barbara beaches on this day, with HTO speaking to the student body about the importance of the EF motto, “Every Day is Earth Day.”


Cate School students at Carpinteria State Beach/photo by Alison Thompson, HTO

Cate School students at Carpinteria State Beach/photo by Alison Thompson, HTO

Heal the Ocean had the pleasure of working with Cate School students to clean up Carpinteria State Beach for the Cate School Day of Service in February 2019. In just a couple of hours, we left the beach with five large bags of garbage...Styrofoam, pieces of netting, straws, clothes, food wrappers, and microplastics tangled up in kelp and driftwood. We thank the staff and students of Cate School for initiating the project of cleaning up this beach, and we invite everyone to give back to the ocean by organizing a beach cleanup! Contact our office (805) 965-7570 for free gloves and bags and an info sheet to get you started.


Julia as "Veep" Selina Meyers

Julia as "Veep" Selina Meyers

How honored we are that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is staying on with Heal the Ocean as Honorary Chair of our Annual Benefit Celebration - slated for October 19, 2019, at the El Paseo in downtown Santa Barbara (please mark your calendars!)

Julia has just finished shooting the final season of the political satire Veep, which will debut Sunday, March 31. She has won an enormous number of Emmys for her acting in this series, which is signing off with one last season of just seven episodes.

Thank you, Julia!