Saturday, October 22 , 2016, 1:52 pm | Mostly Cloudy 67º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube

Local News

Santa Barbara Officials Celebrate Completion of Stormwater Filtration Projects

Improvements are designed to allow stormwater and urban runoff to percolate into the ground

Proclaiming "Now it can rain!," Mayor Helene Schneider cut the ribbon on Wednesday with other Santa Barbara leaders as they celebrated the completion of several stormwater filtration projects around the city.

Although the area badly needs some precipitation, the city is planning ahead for future storms, and people gathered at Oak Park to check out one of the completed projects, where the stage and picnic area on Junipero Street were redone, as well as the tennis court lot on Tallant Road. 

Stevens Park, at 258 Canon Drive, also has been redone as part of the project, along with the Westside Neighborhood Center, 423 W. Victoria St.

The improvements are designed to allow stormwater and urban runoff to percolate into the ground, and about 100,000 square feet of asphalt was removed and replaced with permeable pavers.

Instead of water running off the asphalt, and taking oil, trash and other pollutants on the ground with it, water slowly soaks into the permeable surface.

Oil, auto pollutants and bacteria are naturally broken down by microbes in the soil, said Cameron Benson, creeks restoration manager for the City of Santa Barbara.

After the improvements, the area "can take a significant storm," he said.

Schneider said she hopes that private developers and homeowners will be inspired to use the same strategies on their projects, and Steve Moore of the state Water Resources Control Board called the changes a "great opportunity."

The project was funded by a grant from the state Water Resources Control Board and Santa Barbara's Measure B monies, and total construction costs are expected to be about $2.3 million.

New pavers, designed to allow storm runoff to percolate into the ground, have been installed at several parks in Santa Barbara. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

In the past, the emphasis has been on moving water as quickly as possible to prevent flooding, according to Moore.

"We decided we were to going to direct our most precious resource — water — into the gutter," he said.

Now, he said, the emphasis is more on reclaiming the water and redirecting it from creating polluted runoff into oceans and streams.

Before it reaches the soil, the water hitting the project's surface will travel through 12 inches of gravel packed beneath the pavers but above the soil. The rock had to be that deep to support parking for fire trucks and other heavy loads that might end up parked on top, Benson said.

Staff also gave a demonstration showing how the pavers will work once it does rain. A city water tanker was on site and sprayed reclaimed water onto the ground — strategically placed between two trees so that they'd be able to use the water, Benson said.

Water immediately slipped beneath the pavers and into the gravel beneath.

Runoff has been a significant problem on the city's watershed, according to Kira Redmond, executive director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

Redmond commended the city for the project, calling runoff the "biggest water-quality issue in the city," and a contributing factor to high bacterial levels in oceans and streams.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >