After 18 months of construction and $9.2 million in state money, the Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology Department now has access to some of the freshest water for research – freshest salt water that is.

EEMB completed construction of a new and improved pump house facility during Fall Quarter as part of the Seawater Renewal Project, which also includes a longer seawater pipeline, additional filtering equipment, an aquatic teaching facility and a new well. The new facility will allow UCSB students and researchers access to a higher quality and volume of seawater.

“[This type of facility] is very rare for a general university campus. Students are very lucky,” EEMB research professor Jim Case said.

Case studies and “grows” luminescent fish in tanks of continuously running seawater that is pumped to his lab using the new system. Students studying algology (the study of algae), fish biology, parasitology and other similar subjects will also benefit from the new system, said Shane Anderson, a collector and naturalist in the EEMB Department.

The new facility produces a higher quality of seawater than the old pump system, which pumped seawater directly to the filters or labs. The new system siphons the water into a well – 12 ft. in diameter and 30 ft. deep – where it is stored before being transferred to the labs. This keeps debris out of the pumps, Anderson said.

“It’s excellent seawater, very high quality,” Case said. “Having a very high quality of seawater improves the resources for teaching marine biology and makes possible many types of research – especially research using marine animals – that wouldn’t be possible without it.”

The new pump house facility was built around the existing pump house, which included a pipeline that carried seawater from a location a quarter of a mile offshore at 800 gallons per minute to labs on campus. The new pipeline can carry 1,200 gallons of seawater water per minute from half a mile offshore, Anderson said.

“[The new pipeline] is better because it’s further off, in cleaner water,” Anderson said.

The new facility has an improved storage capacity of 300,000 gallons – 210,000 gallons more than the facility could previously hold.

Four new filters were added to accommodate the increased water storage capacity. Filtered and unfiltered seawater from the facility is supplied to the Old Marine Lab, Bio Technology Building, Marine Lab, Biology Sciences II and Biological Science Instructional Facility.

As part of the project, an Aquatic Teaching Facility is under construction in the Marine Science Institute and will house a touch tank – an underwater petting zoo.

The pump house stands on the site of the former U.S. Marine base’s sewer system, Anderson said. The first marine lab, built in 1964, had an open system that was a well dug on the beach. Over the following decade, marine biology became more popular and funding for the program increased. By 1975, a more professional system was needed and the facility underwent an upgrade costing about $3 million. That system was replaced this year.

The new facility most likely will not need to be upgraded for another 10 to 12 years.

“There is still work going on down there but it’s just mop-up stuff,” Project Manager, Fran Castanha said. “In essence it’s completed.”