Montecito Sanitary District’s Lift Stations

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   February 21, 2019
The 30-ft deep lift station that services the Miramar was completed in October

Last week our cover story shared the soft opening of the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel & Resort, which opened its doors nearly 20 years after the closure of the original Miramar closed in 2000. 

As part of the new Miramar project, developer Rick Caruso was required to fund and construct a new sewer lift station with an emergency back-up generator. Phoenix Civil Engineering and Filippin Engineering, in collaboration with Montecito Sanitary District engineers, designed the facility, which is located on the northeast corner of the Miramar site. The lift station was constructed under contract with the Sanitary District by local construction company Cushman Contracting. 

The facility is located 30 feet underground, and includes two pumps and one back-up pump to service the wastewater from the Miramar project. The facility, which cost over $5M to build, has won an engineering award, according to MSD Maintenance Supervisor Rico Larroude, who gave us a tour of the facility earlier this month. Larroude and his staff will operate and maintain the facility, in compliance with industry standards and environmental regulations. The lift station features a diesel generator and automatic transfer switch to operate the equipment during power outages, consistent with MSD practices. The exterior of the lift station was designed in cohesion with the aesthetic of the Miramar Resort, helping it blend in with the residential feel of the resort. 

Larroude and MSD Operations Manager Alex Alonzo took us on a tour of the four other lift stations in Montecito; MSD new Board Members Dana Newquist and Woody Barrett also joined the tour to see firsthand the intricate infrastructure belonging to the District. The four other lift stations are located on Posilipo Lane, Eucalyptus Lane, Bonnymede, and Channel Drive, and are needed to pump sewage from low-lying areas near the ocean. 

MSD new board members Woody Barrett and Dana Newquist with MSD reps at the Miramar lift station

The Posilipo Lane lift station was damaged during the 1/9 debris flow, and despite filling with mud and debris, the pumps remained in operation. “Our main priority during the disaster was to keep the stations operational,” said Larroude, who was first on the scene in the early morning hours of January 9, 2018. After the mud was cleared out of the station, which is 24 feet underground, new concrete walls were installed to protect it from future debris flow. The station pumps about 10,000 gallons per day, servicing the oceanfront neighborhood east of San Ysidro Road. 

The smallest and oldest station, on Eucalyptus Lane, services 14 oceanfront properties. During the debris flow disaster last year, MSD reps pumped the sewage daily without a generator, until local infrastructure was restored. The nearby Bonnymede lift station services Edgecliff Lane, Bonnymede, and Humphrey Road.

The lift station located on Channel Drive services the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore, the Coral Casino, Montecito Shores neighborhood, and the Channel Drive/Hill area, pumping 100,000 gallons per day. Although it too was impacted by the mudflow, it never seized operation. 

Four staff members from MSD inspect and maintain the stations, physically checking each station twice a week to look for issues. Preventative maintenance is conducted once a month. “All the stations are highly monitored for issues on an ongoing basis,” said Larroude. “We want to proactively find anything wrong before the operation of the lift station has a chance to fail. Wastewater does not stop if our equipment shuts down.” 

In addition to the pump stations, the MSD wastewater collection system includes approximately 61 miles of VCP gravity pipeline, 12 miles of PVC gravity pipeline, and 2.2 miles of sewer force mains. While the infrastructure has not been damaged during our recent rainstorms, General Manager Diane Gabriel tells us that an increase in wastewater to the treatment plan indicates that there are exterior drainage systems draining into the MSD connections. “We want that water to go into the ground, not in the sanitary sewer system,” she said, explaining that excess water that is not from interior sources dilutes the treatment process and can be problematic. Gabriel urges all residents to call the District for a free inspection if they have exterior drains on their property and are unsure where that water goes. 

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