Surf at Rincon Beach won’t be so crappy after local homeowners flow away from septic tanks and into a nearby sewer system.
An environmental impact report (EIR) is being conducted on behalf of surfers and environmentalists to remove aging septic tanks and link the homes on Rincon Beach to Carpinteria’s sewer system. Environmentalists have blamed the septic tanks near the beach for leaking sewage into Rincon’s waters. The switch to a sewer system will decrease pollution levels in Rincon’s waters.
Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean, a nonprofit environmental organization, said she is excited the EIR is finally underway.
“Surfers have been complaining about getting sick for years,” Hauser said. “The septic tanks are the number one polluter in this area, especially if they are in the wrong place such as along a creek or river. This is a big deal to surfers, so we’re glad this is going to happen.”
The EIR will also examine homes on Sandyland, Sand Point Road, Padaro Lane and Beach Club Road that wish to make the septic-to-sewer switch. John Miko, general manager of the Carpinteria Sanitary District, said coastal homeowners want to switch sewers.
“I was approached by several homeowners who wanted to connect to our sewer system,” Miko said. “They even paid for the preliminary study, which cost about $6,000.”
One hundred seventy-five homes would switch to a sewer system once the EIR is completed. Rincon must undergo a detailed study due to archeological remains of Chumash sites.
The EIR began on Jan. 21 and is expected to take a year to complete. Once the study is completed, homeowners will vote to pay an additional property tax on their homes for sewer hookup. Miko said the cost of the sewer hookup would be $40,000 per household over a 20-year period.
According to a statement issued by the regional water quality control board, “alternative or advanced septic systems will not be approved as a viable option for this area of coastline because the leachfields are mixing with groundwater.”
The push for a seaside sewer system began in 1998 when Clean Up Rincon Effluent (C.U.R.E.) circulated a petition among surfers who complained of getting sick after surfing the Rincon and presented it to the county. Heal the Ocean performed DNA testing of the Rincon lagoon that proved that human fecal bacteria was present in the water.
The cost of the EIR is being paid for with funds from the Costa-Machado Proposition 13 grant, C.U.R.E., the Surfrider Foundation, the Rincon Clean Water Classic – a surfing competition to be held this month – and a $67,000 donation from Heal the Ocean. The total cost of the EIR will be $425,000.
“If everything flows according to schedule, the sewer system should be completed in about three years,” Miko said.