Yesterday, the Santa Barbara City Council received an update on the City’s progress in reducing sewage spills, prompted by a lawsuit filed by Channelkeeper in 2011. Thanks to heightened investments in sewer system inspections, cleaning and repairs, the City reduced spills from a high of 41 in 2009 to 7 in 2018, or by 83 percent.
Channelkeeper filed suit against the City in 2011 for violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to its inordinately high rate of sewage spills after a decade of advocacy yielded little progress. Channelkeeper and the City signed a settlement agreement in 2012 which required the City to significantly increase its level of effort and funding to repair and replace leaking sewer pipes and progressively reduce sewage spills. They agreed to extend the settlement for an additional three years in 2016 due to insufficient results, and Channelkeeper hired an expert to help the City design a more effective sewer system management program. As a result, the City has invested an additional $20 million since 2012 to improve its spill response and reporting protocols, enhance sewer pipe inspection and cleaning efforts, and repair or replace 38 miles of sewer pipe (equivalent to 15 percent of its entire 257 miles of sewer mains), including 10 miles of pipes that were identified as having a high risk of leaking to storm drains, creeks and the ocean. Read the full press release, here.