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Environment


The city’s drinking water supply will fall below federal quality standards this summer, it’s predicted, as a result of Zaca Fire runoff and organic materials, including organic phosphate particles found in fire retardant. Trihalomethanes, for example, are toxic byproducts formed when organic particles interact with chlorine at water treatment plants. Officials, however, noted that the quality standard is quite conservative. They’re also considering several means of controlling the problem.

Famed primate scientist and animal rights activist Jane Goodall visited Santa Barbara on 4/15, addressing a group of students and parents at Montecito Union School. Several student groups in the area are involved in a Goodall-sponsored program called Roots & Shoots, which aims to get young people started making a positive impact though community service or environmental or animal rights work.

An initiative by CallWave chairman Peter Sperling and his billionaire father, John, that would require half of California’s energy to be generated by alternative sources by 2025 has gained the approval of the dean of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science, the Community Environmental Council, and Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams. The measure has nonetheless drawn criticism from some who believe it could undermine current environmental protections.

The county released figures this week for recycling rates in Santa Barbara’s unincorporated areas. As of 2006, the most recent available reporting year, these areas divert 69 percent of their waste. State law requires all California jurisdictions to divert at least 50 percent.

Santa Barbara was listed 10th in Country Home magazine’s second annual “Best Green Cities in America” contest. Contest parameters included energy efficiency policy, air and watershed quality, and other elements of sustainability. More than 375 other cities were considered.

The Lauro Reservoir hydroelectric plant constructed in 1985 may be brought back into use. Decommissioned in 1998 because it cost more money to operate than it saved, officials now figure that it might even out if the county uses the energy it produces, avoiding federal regulation, instead of selling it to the grid. The Water Resources Division is asking City Council to hire environmental consulting firm Brown & Caldwell to evaluate the re-commissioning.

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