Praying for Rain Not Good Enough

By Woody Barrett   |   September 13, 2018

We should thank Judith Ishkanian and Bob Williams for their service to our community as appointed board members of the Montecito Sanitation District (MSD) for the past 12 and four years, respectively. I also want to thank the employees of the MSD who worked long and hard hours to restore our systems after the debris flows.

It’s clear after the recent disasters, Montecito and Summerland need and deserve water security. Sierra snowpack and local rainfall are inconsistent. Simply put, we are too dependent on supplies that can fail.

We need to harvest every available drop on this side of the mountain, and that includes recycling our wastewater. While the appointed incumbents on the Montecito Sanitary District Board may agree, their efforts thus far have only produced a plan – not yet implemented – for a small-scale, stand-alone recycled water project to irrigate the District’s lawn. Montecito needs to go further and recycle all of its sanitary water into landscape water. The Montecito Water District could then distribute that recycled landscape water to customers. 

This level of cooperation between the districts has not happened historically, but it is possible. That is why a team is running for Water Security for Montecito and Summerland. I am on the Water Security Team, running for Montecito Sanitary District.

In 2001, Heal the Ocean secured a $330,000 grant to study the discharges from Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, the City of Santa Barbara, and Goleta. The study focused on the cost and infrastructure needed to raise all discharges to the cleaner Tertiary level, a level that can be used for landscaping. Summerland heeded the call and is already discharging at Tertiary level. If Montecito would just take the next step to treat at a higher level, we could use recycled water for landscape irrigation, and the discharge of wastewater into the ocean off Butterfly Beach would be drastically reduced in volume and cleaner as well.

The Sanitary District has proposed a new $3,500,000 office building. I propose that we prioritize recycled water over a new building for a far greater benefit to the entire community.

The Water Security team wants to take Montecito to the same level as the City of Santa Barbara, which has been recycling water for more than 27 years. If your children attended Santa Barbara High School as ours did, they walked on, sat on, and played sports on grass irrigated with recycled water from the City of Santa Barbara. It’s high time for Montecito to do the same for our cemetery and parks. This is a key element for achievement of the goal for water security in Montecito. We’d be honored to have your vote November 6.

However, if you want to continue to take risks with your water supply, and waste more than one-half million gallons of water a day by dumping it just off Butterfly Beach, then cast your vote for the incumbents, and pray for rain.


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