Surfers may find fewer plastic keg cups, bottle caps and pollutants in the ocean this rainy season.

A new water quality treatment project is currently under construction at the intersection of El Embarcadero and Del Playa Drive. The Santa Barbara County Public Works Dept. is managing the installation of the underground system as part of Project Clean Water. The $80,000 cost of the system installation is being funded by a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

Cathleen Garnand, a civil engineering associate with the Water Resources Division of the Public Works Dept. said that water will be diverted into the concrete underground separator, also called a Continuous Deflection Separation (CDS) system.

“The CDS unit removes trash and pollutants before they get out into the ocean,” Garnand said. “It protects the water quality of the ocean.”

Construction started on Jan. 6 in the Isla Vista location, though the project has been in the planning phase for over a year. The project includes the installation of a total of six CDS units and is slated for completion by the end of this month. In addition to the Isla Vista unit, units have been or will be installed at locations in Goleta and Carpinteria.

The CDS unit is designed to remove many pollutants such as sediment, debris, oil and grease. The project also includes the removal of filter inserts within drop inlets upstream from the CDS unit. Drop inlets are cuts in the curb that allow water into underground drainage systems. Currently filter inserts are filled with dirt and grass. The new CDS unit will more efficiently handle these pollutants and have the capacity to handle much more.

The project will eventually include a treatment bioswale, which will further refine the water by removing bacteria, nutrients and industrial pollutants, such as substances discharged from vehicles.

“We would like to have the remaining CDS units installed by the end of this month, but there will be rain delays and it may take a little longer. The project in unincorporated Goleta near Walnut Lane/San Vicente Drive/Rhoads Avenue also includes a bioswale. The bioswale portion of that project will be constructed under a separate contract this spring,” Garnand said. “The sixth CDS unit was installed two years ago … it’s near Calle Real and will treat the drainage from the new development called Maravilla. It’s between Patterson Avenue and San Jose Creek.”

Marc Chaconas, assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said that the project will bring value to the community.

“Gail Marshall is very excited that we’re putting in this storm water separator in Isla Vista. This system will help keep the beaches clean and will eventually illustrate how important it is not to throw trash in the street because the trash goes straight to the beach,” he said. “The Dept. of Public Works brought this proposal to the office and we felt that it is definitely something that will bring value to the community.”

Garnand said she too thinks that this project will benefit the I.V. community.

“These projects represent examples of the kind of technology that can help our creeks and ocean. They are pilot projects. However, there are thousands of storm drains in the county, and thousands of acres of urban drainage, and we can’t install treatment technologies everywhere,” she said. “These kind of projects cost tens of thousands of dollars, plus long-term commitments to maintenance. But we can use them to demonstrate their effectiveness for new development applications. Together with changing people’s habits we can make a difference. That is the goal of Project Clean Water.”