Studies Are Vital in Policy Process

By Montecito Journal   |   May 3, 2022

I look forward to reading the studies that the Montecito Water and Montecito Sanitary districts have jointly commissioned, one by Carollo Engineers to evaluate recycling options and the other by Raftelis to explore the pros and cons of a business case for district consolidation. 

The need for recycled water supplies is rather self-evident. 

The self-evident case is apparent when one understands the gravity of how much and how fast Montecito Water’s two major sources of imported supply, namely, the Santa Ynez River (Cachuma Project and Juncal Reservoir) and Sierra snow melt (State Water Project), as well as Montecito’s local groundwater supply, have become unreliable due to climate change. But maybe not so apparent is how Montecito’s new water services agreement (desalination) with the City of Santa Barbara is able to backfill the reliability losses of the above sources of supply. 

What may not be self-evident to the casual observer is the complex interwoven context for Board decisions to launch a major investment in a recycled water program. These include upward trending construction costs for large scale reclaimed water projects, ever evolving and costlier modern technologies for water treatment and storage, and increasing costs of facilities operations. 

All of the above source of supply variables must be addressed in a detailed study (if not studies) for the two Boards to make informed decisions about recycled water.

The need for Montecito Water and Sanitary District consolidation is, however, not self-evident. Agency consolidation is a complex and difficult process for a number of reasons having to do with vested interests, costs, and equity. These must be carefully identified in a study and openly vetted for review by customers and voters.

There are a number of examples of separate water and sanitary districts in California working together by agreement, not consolidation, to produce and deliver reclaimed water, including the Goleta Sanitary District and the Goleta Water District and the Carpinteria Valley Water District and the Carpinteria Sanitary District. A somewhat famous example (in the water industry at least) is the Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitary District’s agreement to produce purified wastewater for injection into the Orange County groundwater basin, holding back seawater intrusion, and augmenting groundwater supplies for drinking water wells.

And there are examples of agencies simply created to provide both water and wastewater services. One that I worked with quite a number of years ago is the Irvine Ranch Water District, which provides water and wastewater services for a multi-city service area. Another is the Camrosa Water District in Camarillo, where I was once Assistant General Manager in the late ‘80s. 

Given the daunting complexity of both recycling and consolidation issues, the Boards of both Montecito Water and Sanitary districts appear to be on the right path. They are engaged in a process, which if not done thoroughly, without detailed studies, would be a mistake. 

Charles Bullwinkle Hamilton

Parked Montecito Fire Engines

Two parked fire engines sticking out in the roadway on East Mountain Drive by the Cold Spring Trailhead

On Wednesday morning (April 20, 2022), my friend and I took a hike up Cold Spring Trail. As we returned on the Ridge Trail, we encountered a number of firemen hiking up the trail; they were carrying shovels and axes. A fireman explained they were doing PT (physical training). 

When we reached East Mountain Drive about 10:30 am, two fire engines were sticking out in the roadway. Hikers are getting ticketed if their vehicles stick out – even a little – but the Montecito Fire Department can do so with immunity. The fire engines were abandoned there for quite a while – it appears the fire department isn’t worried about vandalism.

To ensure emergency vehicle access, the fire department wants fifteen feet of clearance on a roadway after cars are parked. There was about 10 feet of roadway remaining when the fire engines were parked. This created a bottleneck, making it more difficult for emergency vehicles to get through, and slowing them down. If hikers’ cars had been parked on the other side of the road, which is often the case, the situation would have been even worse, particularly if some of those cars stuck out.

Good response times are important in fighting fires. If fire engines parked on Mountain Drive are needed in the event of a serious fire, they’re not going to be readily available if the firemen are way up on the mountain. 

Why can’t firemen use a smaller vehicle to get to the trailhead, allowing the big equipment to remain in the station?

Bryan Rosen

On Inflation

Mr. Brutoco presents a lot of information purged from various reports by financial institutions in his article, “Inflation, the Economy, and More.” In my opinion, he misses three important points. First, inflation was primarily caused by printing money through the many give away programs of the Biden administration. Second, some of the high cost of oil could have been prevented if the progressive Biden government had not canceled the Keystone pipeline and severely restricted oil drilling. Third, Mr. Brutoco states the stock market is “seriously over valued,” yet he does not have the background or experience to make that statement. Nevertheless, once the progressives are removed from power, the stock market will flourish again.

Frank McGinity

Approaches to Oil

To read the interview with Bobbi McGinnis, one would believe we had energy independence on January 19, 2021, and it was gone by January 21, 2021. Oil is an international traded commodity, and it was disrupted by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Our national energy policy was established in the 1970s. In 1973 there was an oil embargo from Arab producers as a reaction to the Yom Kippur War. President Carter introduced the National Energy Act, which established energy goals: to reduce the nation’s dependency on oil, increase the use of renewable energy, and encourage conservation. He put solar panels on the White House roof, established first mileage standards, and suggested we wear sweaters. In 1981, President Regan removed the solar panels, and cancelled the mileage standard. Ever since, the Democrats have encouraged renewable energy and increased mileage standards as they fight for energy independence and against climate change. The Republican party just says drill, drill!

Danute Handy

Not Trusting the Mainstream Media’s Politics

After ignoring, misrepresenting, and essentially burying the story for a year and a half, the mainstream media has now admitted that the emails and other materials discovered on a laptop Hunter Biden left at a computer store in April, 2019 were authentic. The disclosures in those emails which surfaced in the final weeks of the Presidential election were explosive… so explosive that polls taken after the election show that Biden would have lost the election if voters were simply informed of them. They document a web of suspect international transactions trading on the Biden name while Joe Biden was Vice President. The disclosures were factually supported and confirmed by witnesses at the time, but the left-wing media circled the wagons to defend the Bidens. Generally, this took the form of simply not reporting on them or if they did, labeling them “Russian Disinformation,” even though there was no evidence whatsoever supporting such a characterization. Social media joined the all-out Biden protection program by censoring any discussion of it and cutting off links to reports of the laptop.

Contrast this to last month when the same media outlets went front page and lead story to report email messages exchanged between Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff under President Trump, and Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Those email exchanges were subpoenaed by the House Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots and… surprise, surprise… leaked by an “undisclosed source” to the Washington Post. All but one of the emails exchanged were in November 2020, in the days immediately following the election. They discuss using all available means to challenge what they believed was an election result achieved through voting irregularities. This was like raw meat for the press, eager to change the subject from the growing public dissatisfaction with the current administration. Allegations of conflict of interest came screaming from the newsrooms and Democrat politicians asking for Justice Thomas’s resignation and/or his recusal from any case involving the Trump Administration because of his wife’s expressed election concerns.

I submit that the revelations of Hunter’s laptop evidence are a far greater conflict of interest than anything found in Ginni Thomas’s emails. They present potential criminal and national security issues that need to be investigated. Don’t count on the so-called journalists in the mainstream media to be involved in any such investigation or to report any findings.

Lawrence Dam

Putin and Ukraine

Many on the far-right indulge in their fantasy that if Trump were still president, Putin would not have invaded Ukraine because he would have faced “dire consequences.” The truth is that Trump had his head so far up Putin’s posterior, he could have performed an eyewitness colonoscopy.

Putin did not invade Ukraine under Trump’s watch only because it wasn’t necessary to achieve his alleged objective – to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. Trump wanted to abandon NATO entirely because the Europeans “did not pay their dues.” (FYI – there are no membership dues.) He did pull U.S. troops out of Germany, much to Putin’s delight.

It has been President Biden who has led a broad coalition in response to Putin’s aggression. Weapons have been provided to the courageous Ukrainian resistance and economic sanctions have made the Russian ruble virtually worthless. That’s what a real leader, with a strong commitment to democracy, does.

Some are saying President Biden should be following the example set in 1938 by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, who “negotiated” with Hitler and allowed him to annex Czechoslovakia. PM Chamberlain promised this would guarantee “peace with honor” and “peace for our time.” What could possibly go wrong? One might ask Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece that question. Those countries were all invaded, in succession, by Hitler’s military between 1938 and 1941. For whom was this peaceful or honorable?

At the end of WWII, there was a universal cry of “Never Again.” Yet, some now want another megalomaniac to literally call the shots.

Should we allow history to repeat itself and passively accept Putin’s atrocities as a fait accompli? Will Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, already NATO members, be the next victims of Putin’s 21st century Soviet Union fever dream? Those who don’t want an expanded war should think about that.

The whole world is watching.

Robert Baruch  


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