Gray Water’s Dark Side

While hiking on a public trail last week, Environmental Defense Center staff observed a discharge from a pipe into San Roque Creek. The pipe was coming from a house on the stream bank and was located under dense vegetation as if to be hidden. The pipe spewed for several minutes then turned off.

EDC staff recognized this as an illegal gray water discharge into the creek. We noted its location and reported the pollution to Santa Barbara County Project Clean Water, Environmental Health Services, and California Department of Fish and Game officials. Within several days, the County visited the site, contacted the owner, and determined the pipe was unlawfully discharging from a washing machine to the creek. The pipe was sealed and the owner corrected the water pollution violation.

Pollutants from laundry soap can cause algae blooms in creeks and rivers, which deprive the water of dissolved oxygen and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bleach is highly toxic to fish and amphibians.

Thanks to EDC’s work, thousands of people who go to Stevens Park, hike Jesusita Trail, and live along San Roque Creek, and all the critters in the creek will enjoy cleaner water and a healthier environment.

Brian Trautwein is an environmental analyst for the Environmental Defense Center

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Lavagnino’s Sudden Victory

5th District supervisor a shoo-in as filing window closes; Gregg Hart also unopposed for 2nd District.

One Half of Old Town Streets to Get Sidewalks

Walkways planned for one side of Goleta neighborhood streets; parking, lighting talks at community meeting March 22.

After Disaster in Montecito, Where Is All the Money Going?

Santa Barbara nonprofits account for millions spent on relief efforts.

Santa Barbara Experiences a Rainy March, but a Dry Year

Water year only 34 percent of normal for precipitation.

City Says Franceschi House Has Got to Go

The estimate to rehabilitate the historical building was nearly $7 million.