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Local News

County Starts Dumping-Related Clean-up Work at Goleta, Carpinteria Beaches

Truckloads of mud from debris flow removal was transported to local beaches following Montecito debris flow

Equipment works to clean up the western end of Goleta Beach County Park Tuesday afternoon. Click to view larger
Equipment works to clean up the western end of Goleta Beach County Park Tuesday afternoon.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Two months after trucks stopped dumping loads of Montecito mud onto the shore at Goleta Beach County Park, the ocean waters remain closed because testing shows bacteria levels significantly exceed standards.

Ocean waters are closed if they have been contaminated by fecal bacteria or raw sewage, and they will stay closed until sampling results show the water meets state health standards, according to the county Public Health Department.

There are red warning signs posted along the beach, and Public Health also advises people to avoid eating raw fish and shellfish caught close to ocean waters with elevated bacteria levels. 

Warnings and closures for all other South Coast beaches had been lifted as of Tuesday, including Carpinteria State Beach, where mud and debris were also deposited following the Jan. 9 debris flow and flooding.

On Wednesday, the Public Health Department placed East Beach at Mission Creek and El Capitan State Beach on warning status because of water testing results.

Montecito-area mud was dumped at Goleta Beach, along Highway 101 in Goleta, and at various sites throughout the county as crews worked to clear roadways, creek beds and debris basins.

Carpinteria-area mud was deposited on Carpinteria State Beach, at Ash Avenue, and permits for the dumping expired at the end of February.

County officials announced clean-up efforts Monday to get rid of the layer of sediment still on the Goleta and Carpinteria beaches and “restore them to pre-emergency conditions.”

Red warnings signs are posted all over Goleta Beach County Park Click to view larger
Red warnings signs are posted all over Goleta Beach County Park, advising people not to go into the ocean water.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Public Works spokesman Lael Wageneck said the hardened sediment layer at beach areas was formed where equipment drove over it during the disposal process.

The sediment layer “could interfere with the ability for macro-invertebrates to recolonize,” he said in an email.

“While the sediment layer is resistant to the waves, we have been able (to) easily break it up. Depending on how easy it is to remove it, we will either haul it away or mix it up and leave it where it is,” he said.

According to the county, the work is being done this week because of low tides, and to avoid potential grunion spawning.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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