The city of Santa Barbara Creeks Restoration/Water Quality Improvement Division is celebrating 20 years since its establishment in January of 2001.
In November of 2000, city voters overwhelmingly approved Measure B, a 2% tax on hotel visitors, which funds the Creeks Division’s creek restoration, water quality improvement, and education and outreach efforts.
Some highlights of the past 20 years include creek restoration projects such as the Arroyo Burro Estuary and Mesa Creek Restoration, the Upper Las Positas Creek Restoration at the Santa Barbara Golf Club and the Arroyo Burro Open Space Restoration. Smaller projects on Arroyo Burro at Hidden Valley Park and Honda Valley Park, among others, contribute to a total of 28.25 acres of creekside habitat that have been restored, with over 50,000 native plants and trees planted.
“We are excited to share the successes of our first 20 years with the community,” said George Johnson, acting creeks restoration/clean water manager. “We look forward to continuing to work with Santa Barbara residents, local businesses, community organizations and regional partners to improve Santa Barbara’s creek and ocean water quality, and protect our watersheds.”
To improve that water quality, the Creeks Division installed water quality improvement projects, including: debris screens on storm drains throughout the city; storm water treatment demonstration projects in parkways along local streets; and replaced more than 200,000 square feet of impermeable parking lots, streets and sidewalks with permeable pavers. Currently, a stormwater treatment project is under construction at Bohnett Park, which will treat stormwater from the surrounding neighborhood in infiltration chambers under the turf field.
The Creeks Division’s ongoing water quality monitoring program researches pesticides, microplastics and the ecological health of city creeks and ocean, as well as DNA-based studies to locate and eliminate human waste reaching the city’s storm drain system. Water quality data collected is presented in an annual water quality report, and five-year water quality reports are also produced and posted online at SBCreeks.com.
Youth watershed education, volunteer creek and beach clean-ups, public service announcements on television, radio, print, and internet media, and community volunteer events and educational events such as Creek Week are all part of the division’s community outreach efforts. The Creeks Division’s Code Enforcement program encourages community members to report pollution in Santa Barbara’s streets, storm drains and creeks online or via the Pollution Hotline at 805-897-2688.
Also achieved in the past 20 years was the acquisition of 35.75 acres of new creekside open space, certification of more than 300 businesses as Clean Creeks Businesses, removal of more than 1.7 million pounds of trash from city creeks and beaches, more than 7,750 volunteer hours donated via service projects and securing of nearly $19 million in grant funding.
To mark the milestone, the Creeks Division produced a 20-year report highlighting its program achievements over the past 20 years, and much more. To view the 20 Year Report, visit SBCreeks.com. The report is available in both English and Spanish in an online, responsive format at bit.ly/creeks20yearreport and bit.ly/arroyosinformede20anos, as well as PDF format at bit.ly/creeks20yearreportpdf and bit.ly/arroyosinformede20anospdf.