Years in the making, a sewage-pipeline-replacement project underway near the UCSB campus aims to increase environmental protections for the surrounding area and accommodate future growth in Isla Vista and western Goleta. Spearheaded and paid for by the Goleta West Sanitary District, the $9 million project involves trading in a 33-inch-diameter pipeline — currently snaking through the East Storke wetlands — for a 42-inch version that will run under Mesa Road, sparing the ecologically sensitive habitat from any potential spill (never an occurrence in the district’s history) and increasing the flow capacity should the district’s service area see maximum development in the years to come.
Installed in the 1970s, the existing pipeline has long drawn relocation requests from the Goleta Slough Management Committee, which provided input on the move. Committee member Pat Saley called the project — the mile-long pipeline is about halfway installed at this point — a “win-win” for the district (which will be able to better access the pipeline) and the wetland (which will no longer be disturbed by maintenance work); some manholes in the slough will be abandoned, too. Mark Nation, the district’s longtime general manager, called the project “an investment in the community.”
Expected to last 100 years — the material can sustain the gases released by the waste — the new pipeline, like the old one, will serve as the connecting point for all of the district’s wastewater lines at the intersection of Los Carneros and Mesa roads and will funnel its contents to the district’s pump station. Nation said that his team first started planning for the move in 2003, a decision bolstered by a subsequent study forecasting more district customers and up to 3.9 million gallons of wastewater daily, up from its current load of 1.7 million gallons daily.
Construction began in June following UCSB’s commencement ceremonies, and Mesa Road will reopen ahead of the start of the fall quarter in early October. The entire project should finish by the end of the year.