More Montecito Hot Springs

By Montecito Journal   |   March 8, 2022
On Los Padres National Forest land, pipe taking hot water at Cliff Spring to estates below in Montecito

Again, Mr. Emanuel in his latest letter (February 24, 2022) puts words in my mouth that I never said. Regarding a shuttle, he says “…where is the pickup parking lot to be? Bryan has suggested Mt. Carmel…” I never suggested the Mt. Carmel Church for a shuttle.

He goes on to say, “What we are not hearing from Bryan are plausible solutions to the parking problem…” and suggests that I “…map out a doable solution…” but neglects to mention how estate owners are threatening to sue the county over the county’s plan to put some parking spaces on Riven Rock Road (is Mr. Emanuel going to be their attorney?).

He states I neglected to mention the settlement reached in 2019 in which the Montecito Creek Water Company was required to do restoration of the creek bed. It’s true the company got in a lot of trouble and had to make payments totaling $24,435. District Attorney Joyce Dudley said, “These violations threatened the health of our valuable natural resources…” Yet, here we are around three and a half years later, and there are still a lot of abandoned pipes in the creek. Hopefully, the water company won’t have to pay additional penalties which will be passed on to Mr. Emanuel and other shareholders, but get right on it, in cleaning up the mess.

He states, “Bryan feels the responsibility should be placed on the shoulders of others.” I never made such a vague statement, but have made it clear that the water company should be responsible for cleaning up problems it created.

He suggests that perhaps the Bucket Brigade can be used as a template for the Hot Springs Trail. The Bucket Brigade was a group of volunteers who helped a lot after the mudslides of January 2018. Why should a group like this clean up after the water company? – that is unless Mr. Emanuel wants to form his own “Bucket Brigade” made up of shareholders of the Montecito Creek Water Company.

He says it “would collectively cost…hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars” for the estates to hook up to the Montecito Water District. Plumbing supplies aren’t that costly – for example, PVC pipes are inexpensive and are laid all over Montecito to irrigate estates. Where does he get these figures from?

One pipe, much of it plastic, takes hot springs water down Hot Springs Canyon to the estates. If a forest fire occurs, and the pipe is destroyed as it was in the Thomas Fire, will estate owners have enough water to be able to protect their assets? In any case, a gravity fed system doesn’t provide the water pressure needed to fight fires.

I’m informed that about twenty estates use the hot springs water. Estate owners are smart about protecting their properties, so it’s likely backup systems tied in with District Water are already in place. District water is at high pressure. Some of the estates may have one-inch pipes (great help for fighting fires) and sprinkler systems.

If Mr. Emanuel doesn’t have a backup system of District Water, it would be a good idea for him to put one in. His neighborhood Bucket Brigade could assist him in digging ditches, laying pipes, and putting in faucets.

Here’s a possible win-win solution: The pipe could take water out of Hot Springs Creek farther down. There happens to be an abandoned plastic pipe lying in a waterfall, with a lot of water pouring through it. This pipe could be hooked up to the main pipe. The good news is that this area is below where pipes tend to be vandalized.

As Hot Springs Creek always seems to be flowing, this could be an effective way to get water. Wouldn’t it be great if estates no longer had to get water that smells like sulfur?

And the unethical practice of usurping hot springs on public land would come to an end.

Bryan Rosen  


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