The number of sewage spills within the City of Santa Barbara more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 — from 9 to 20 — and that exceed a legal settlement between City Hall and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.
City engineers noted they’ve replaced 15 miles of high-risk sewage pipe while identifying 30. Kira Redmond for the Channelkeeper lauded City Hall’s diligence but objected city workers were fixing the wrong pipes. Despite an increase in repairs, she said the number of spills increased. In 2014, she said, 5,600 gallons of untreated sewage spilled, 4,000 of which was not captured. The chief culprit is tree roots.
Redmond expressed frustration that city officials declined to meet with her experts to discuss what Redmond saw as the shortcomings in the city’s spill management plan. When Councilmember Cathy Murillo introduced a motion to compel such talks, Mayor Helene Schneider intervened, stating to both sides, “I don’t think we need a motion to make you talk to each other.”
Three years ago, City Hall paid $337,500 of Channelkeeper’s attorneys’ fees and another $125,000 to a private environmental consultant to launch a mitigation program.