Opponents of the Rincon Point septic-to-sewer conversion filed suit last week, seeking to overturn the vote in support of the sanitary switch. The legal challenge-which alleges misconduct against a Ventura County clerk and accuses conversion proponents Heal the Ocean of intimidation tactics-comes as the conversion moves ever closer toward reality. The Carpinteria Sanitary District last week approved the Padaro portion of the conversion to begin immediately, as that community’s infrastructure is sewer-ready.

On 6/16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and North County-based Greka Energy agreed that Greka would be responsible for the clean-up of toxic PCBs leaked into a nearby creek, likely as a result of a downed power pole during a January rainstorm. If Greka doesn’t meet certain “compliance milestones” for the cleanup, it could face fines of up to $7,500 daily. The PCBs were of especial concern as they were found in the habitat of the endangered tiger salamander. (/grekaPCBs)

Unusually clear June weather set the stage for the successful 6/20 launch of the Ocean Surface Topology Mission Jason 2 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force base. The instrument will record information about the ocean that researchers say will help yield information about global warming-namely sea temperature and worldwide sea levels. Its designers hope it will also allow for more accurate hurricane prediction. (/jason2)

In response to a predicted water shortage, the Montecito Water Board on 6/19 presented its proposed water rate increases at a lively and opinionated public meeting. The new rates would purportedly encourage water conservation by, for example, charging $4.15 per HCF (hundreds of cubic feet) to single-family residences that use more than 20 HCF of water in a month. Water use of less than 20 HCF costs $3.90 per HCF. Water District General Manager Tom Moseby stated that homeowners’ gardens soak up too much water in the area. The matter will be revisited on 8/19. (/montecitowater526)

A rotten-egg stench near the Santa Barbara Bird Refuge last weekend was found to have been caused by an algae bloom, said City of Santa Barbara Assistant Parks Director Jill Zachary. Apparently, the main recipients of the foul smell had been some business owners on Montecito’s western end. Wildlife does not appear to have been affected by the bloom, which may be linked to higher-than-normal summer temperatures.

Shoreline Park’s beach access has reopened, following concerns of the safety of the stairway last week. City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation officials declared no eminent danger was posed by erosion related to a sinkhole that developed in the park last winter. The park and landslide will be monitored daily, however, and the area surrounding the landslide will be staked off to ensure public safety.


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