After years of getting the Los Olivos community informed about options for their “special problems area” regarding wastewater and septic issues, more than 250 residents and business owners turned in their signatures and application to form Los Olivos Community Services District (CSD) to the Santa Barbara Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO).
“What an incredible community effort – thanks to each of you who signed the petition, gathered signatures, and talked with your neighbors about the importance of giving our town an opportunity to vote on CSD formation,” said the Los Olivos Water Reclamation committee in a statement.
Los Olivos residents have been plagued for decades by failing septic systems and Santa Barbara County declared Los Olivos a “special problems area” in 1974 because of its problems. Los Olivos’ issue is a high water table, which prevents separation between groundwater and the effluent in septic leach fields, according to a report done by MNS Engineers in 2010, so that wastewater can come into direct contact with the groundwater.
Some of the residents and business owners learned in March of this year that Santa Ynez Community Service District (SYCSD) had applied to Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to annex their area in March and decided they wanted to explore more options. The county already had recommended forming a special district that would assess Los Olivos customers to pay for a system that pumps treated waste from individual septic tanks to a communal tank for further treatment and then disposal on a common leach field.
“If we were annexed into Santa Ynez district, it would give us a very small voice of how we want our town operating, and we wanted to make sure that we were all comfortable with how we went further. That’s why we appealed and created a group to look into all the options,” said Mark Herthel of Los Olivos Water Reclamation Steering Committee.
Recently enacted state and county regulations will force changes in the use of septic systems or onsite wastewater treatment systems in Los Olivos. A septic system that fails, especially if it is not up to current standards, can cost thousands of dollars to upgrade, according to David Brummond, supervisor with the county’s Division of Environmental Health Services.
They went before the LAFCO board on June 2 and got a decision to delay the application for six months until more studies are done, according to Mark Herthel of the Los Olivos Wastewater Steering Committee.
The signatures are under review from LAFCO and the status of the application will be updated in January. Look for a story in the second edition of the SYV Star, out Jan. 17.
To read the revised draft of the Los Olivos Wastewater Management Plan online, go to www.losolivoswastewater.com .