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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good News for Rincon

Rincon Septic-to-Sewer Plan Approved

The normally sleepy proceedings of the Carpinteria Sanitary District Board of Directors exploded this week as multimillion-dollar-home owners, their lawyers, and surfers descended on the scene looking to change what happens when toilets get flushed along Rincon Point.

For years, people have been getting sick after surfing the world-class waves of Rincon, often blaming their fevers, sore throats, ear infections, and stomach problems on the septic tanks that service the 72 homes in the gated Rincon Point community on the popular Carpinteria point break. Led by Santa Barbara nonprofit Heal the Ocean, a plan has been in motion for the better part of nine years to convert the individual septic tanks to a comprehensive sewage system under the jurisdiction of the Sanitary District. Tuesday, October 16, marked the final step in that long process: a tally of votes from Rincon Point homeowners as to whether or not they support the conversion.

According to the "unofficial" results, 41 of the 72 property owners voted in favor of the septic-to-sewer switch. Upon hearing the uncertified results, Heal the Ocean executive director Hillary Hauser was visibly emotional about what, to her, is a bittersweet victory: "After all these years I always imagined a big celebration on this day but instead, because of all this negativity and the accusations, it just seems so sad right now."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Centralized sewer is hardly a panacea. On the smaller scale end, septic tank/leachfields are usually ok with appropriate soil conditions; I gather Rincon area doesn't have these. But note that by collecting large amounts of wastewater, when things go wrong they'll really go wrong. There are other solutions besides poorly performing septic drainfileds and large, expensive collection systems that might be a more appropriate technical fit to the Rincon area's problems. $80k/house sounds very expensive.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the 10 years of working on this, I haven't seen anyone come up with a viable alternative - just a lot of sideline observations that are usually more grounded in fear than facts.

Then again, that's nothing new in the enviro world.

Glenn Hening

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Composting toilets work great if the users have the passion and know how to make them work properly...

Thermophilic composting...

Beneficial bacteria break down the
humanure, and in the process give off great quantities of heat, raising the temperature of the humanure piles 130-150 degrees Fahrenheit.

This in turns kills off any disease pathogens and pests in the humanure.

In order to create ideal conditions for these bacteria the nitrogen to carbon ratio (known in composting lingo as greens and browns) must be properly balanced.

The most common way of achieving this with composting toilets is the addition of sawdust or wood shavings everytime the toilet is used.

For more information look up the book "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins

or just go directly to any of these links:





7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The simplest alternative would be to identify any septic tanks that aren't functioning up to snuff, and repair or replace them. (That is, if any problems are found at all; keep in mind that the 1999 DNA study found the surf zone, creek and lagoon all to be cleaner than swimming-pool standards).

Another viable alternative is here: http://tinyurl.com/37gy6w. The Ventura Regional Sanitation District has the following to say about onsite treatment (as opposed to sewer): "This [onsite] technology is an effective solution to the problem of treating and managing sewage in an environmentally sensitive and geologically challenged area, and it represents the wave of the future for California, and the Ventura County area."

Keep in mind, perfection is not possible when it comes to bacteria levels on crowded beaches. In the words of the DNA study's very own author, Mansour Samadpour: “One human with an infection can contaminate an entire beach. It doesn’t take much if the bather has a highly contagious illness. Babies at the beach are like bacteria tea bags.” (source: http://tinyurl.com/2hrxed.)

With the proposed project, not only are all Rincon homeowners on the hook for $88,000 (at a minimum), but instead of trace amounts of bacteria possibly leaching through the soil and into the ocean, this sewer project guarantees that ALL of our waste will be pumped two miles up the coast, loaded with toxic chemicals to kill some (but not all) of the bacteria, and then pumped straight back into the surf zone; just 300 yards off the beach, into 25 feet of water. All things being equal, I'd say that we shouldn't leap headfirst into a ridiculously expensive infrastructure project, that comes with no assurance whatsoever of benefiting the environment, and may harm it considerably.


Ben Weiss

4:35 PM  

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