SB Channelkeeper Responds to Oil Spill

undefinedIn the wake of May’s oil spill, where a pipeline ruptured and spilled an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil at Refugio State Beach, the local environmental watchdog organization Santa Barbara Channelkeeper issued the following statement:

“Channelkeeper is sickened to learn of the oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel and is extremely concerned about its inevitable impacts on water quality and marine life. We will be out on the water to investigate the extent and impacts of the spill, monitor the containment efforts, keep the public updated, provide any assistance we can with the clean-up, and ultimately ensure that the responsible party cleans up the oil that has marred our precious beaches, ocean and marine life,” said Kira Redmond, Channelkeeper’s Executive Director.

Channelkeeper urges the public to stay off the beach and out of the water in the vicinity of the spill, and to avoid trying to help with clean-up efforts at this early stage. Oil is toxic and oil spill response volunteers must be trained to handle hazardous materials. The best way to help is to stay away from contaminated areas to minimize scaring oiled wildlife and prevent tracking oil into otherwise clean areas. Call 877-823-6926 to report wildlife affected by the oil spill and to get these animals help.

Channelkeeper will draw on the experience and expertise of Waterkeeper Alliance’s Rapid Response Team and local Waterkeeper organizations who’ve led recent oil spill response efforts in San Francisco Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to ensure that appropriate clean-up, mitigation and enforcement occur in response to the May 19th spill in the Santa Barbara Channel. Channelkeeper will also continue to work with California Coastkeeper Alliance to advance needed reforms to our state's laws and policies governing oil development, transport and spill response.

For more information, contact Kira Redmond, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, at (805) 563-3377 ext.1 (office) or (805) 452-8647 (mobile); or Ben Pitterle, Marine and Watershed Program Director, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, at (805) 563-3377 ext.3 (office) or (805) 636-6189 (mobile)

California Adopts Statewide Desalination Policy

undefinedOn May 6th, 2015, the State Water Board adopted a statewide Desalination Policy, which will dictate how and where desalination facilities are built, and how surrounding ecosystems are protected from their impacts. One of the most important features of the Policy is that it expresses a clear preference for the use of subsurface intakes where feasible; the first in the world to do so. Subsurface intakes result in zero operational impact to marine life, while the alternative of open ocean intakes can kill billions of marine life organisms annually.  CCKA advocated for project proponents to use subsurface intakes in almost all cases, but the Policy unfortunately allows Regional Water Boards considerable discretion whether to permit subsurface intakes or not.  There are also several loopholes in the Policy that may allow facilities to use open ocean intakes, including the Carlsbad facility, which will essentially operate without the environmental safeguards that California deems necessary to protect marine life.

If even a fraction of the ocean desalination facilities currently being considered are actually constructed, it will permanently change the way that communities plan and manage their water supply, alter the California coast and impact our ocean ecosystem. If ocean desalination projects move forward, CCKA and its 12 California Waterkeepers will ensure they do so in a way that minimizes marine life mortality, avoids impacts to marine protected areas, and prevents the accumulation of toxic brine plumes.  California’s coastal waters and the marine life they support are resources held in trust by California for the benefit of all people. CCKA expects Regional Boards to consider its public trust obligations in issuing permits for proposed desalination projects to ensure environmental protection for the benefit of present and future generations.  We also expect Regional Boards to require local water agencies to consider alternative water supply projects with multiple benefits – like conservation, stormwater capture, and water recycling – before proposing excessively large and unnecessary desalination facilities. 

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