On Saturday, October 19, 2013 the Goleta Sanitary District Board of Directors and General Manager Kamil Azoury held a public ribbon-cutting ceremony on the District grounds, to celebrate the completion of construction that launches the wastewater facility into operation in which wastewater gets full secondary treatment.
The $40 million upgrade, which began in 2004, has been completed one year ahead of schedule. In 2002 Heal the Ocean made its legal push for the upgrade, asking the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to deny another 301h waiver for the District. Although HTO won its case before the Regional Board in 2002, it took another two years to win the GSD appeal of the ruling to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The 301h waiver program had allowed some sanitary districts, including GSD, time to upgrade their facilities to full secondary as required by the Clean Water Act in 1972, and five California wastewater plants were for years discharging into the ocean wastewater that had not received full secondary treatment.
The difference in treatment levels greatly affects the amount of solids in the wastewater effluent being discharged into the ocean – estimated in GSD’s case to be as much as a ton and a half per day.
HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser, who attended Saturday’s Ceremony, thanked the GSD Board and Mr. Azoury for the early completion of construction, and also thanked the District for its cooperative, collaborative attitude in tackling the upgrade. Since 2004 HTO has received progress reports on construction, and “they were always ahead of schedule,” Hauser notes.
Also, toward the end of the construction project, GSD added cogeneration into its plans, by which the wastewater facility will be able to generate power from its wastewater processing. When the District applied for Proposition 84 funds through the Santa Barbara County Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) program, to pay for this additional feature, HTO (which sits on the IRWM Steering Committee) lobbied for a $500,000 grant to be awarded to GSD for this purpose.
“This issue started out as a bit of a shoving match,” Hauser says. “In the end, all sides were working together, and on Saturday GSD and HTO shook hands on a very good project for the environment.”
For more information, call Heal the Ocean at (805) 965-7570.