Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 10:48 pm | Overcast 64º


Local News

County to Begin Preparing for Winter Floods in Tea Fire Burn Areas

Just weeks after treating Gap Fire areas in Goleta, Public Works officials turn their attention to hillsides in Santa Barbara and Montecito.

With little time until the winter flood season, Santa Barbara County’s Public Works Department will begin stream clearing in the areas affected by the Tea Fire to prepare for possible floods that might happen as a result of erosion in the burned watersheds.

As with last July’s Gap Fire, Flood Control’s concern is that the burned hillsides in Santa Barbara and Montecito will erode into the streams during winter rains, causing flooding downstream.

According to Deputy Public Works Director Tom Fayram, three watersheds were affected by the Tea Fire. The Sycamore Canyon watershed was the hardest hit, with about 70 percent of the watershed area burned, followed by the Montecito Creek watershed with its Cold Springs Creek and Mission Creek watershed to the west and its Rattlesnake Creek tributary, which were not badly affected, Fayram said.

“The entire watershed and downstream system of Sycamore Creek is our main concern,” Fayram said.

The Sycamore Creek system runs through the burned Five Points area, by the zoo and into the lower east side of Santa Barbara. Aside from the stream clearing, the department will be working on excavating debris basins.

Unlike the Gap Fire, which was extensive but mostly in wildland area, the Tea Fire has been concentrated and in populated areas, which, according to Fayram, would not make it a good candidate for the aerial hydromulching that was done in the hills north of the Goleta Valley. Besides , Fayram said, there isn’t enough time to set up such an operation.

“We’re looking to do what we can get done immediately,” he said.

Future plans may include installing debris racks at strategic points throughout the creeks to catch debris before they can clog up the waterways.

Write to [email protected].


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