Where to put all the mud, rocks and muck from Jan. 9 Montecito debris flow?

Mar 2, 2018

After nearly two months of cleaning up after the January 9, 2018 debris flow, this week's rainstorm brought more stormwater flowing down Montecito's creek's and drainage areas. 

As homeowners and businesses continue to clean and rebuild, county officials are reminding people to follow the set guidelines for clearing properties. KCBX's Tyler Pratt sat down with Thomas Fayram of the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department to learn more.

KCBX: So why shouldn't people dump debris in creeks and drainage areas?

FAYRAM: It's highly illegal, and if anyone were caught doing they are subject to very severe penalties, because that's violation of federal law, in addition to state and local ordinances as well. But really the problem is, it slows down the overall recovery of the community, and we view our entire county, and Montecito as a part of that, as one community that we need to work together to get this recovery process completed. And for folks to take material off of one site and put it on another, which in this case might be in a creek, doesn't solve the larger problem, it just shifts the problem from one person to another. And that's rather short-sighted. Not to mention that you fill in a creek channel with deposit material you could even flood your neighbors or your own property again. But I think the biggest thing to point out is that if someone is caught doing that, we will absolutely ensure that the full force of the law is brought upon that because that's a very serious offense that could damage other people or even cause harm, even death to people, if that if that were to happen. 

KCBX: What is some recourse for people who are clearing this debris off of their properties, what are some suggestions or ideas of what they can do with all this? 

FAYRAM: Well, if they have to haul it off, they have to get a contractor and that contractor has to find a location. Those locations are admittedly very limited. And so we recognize that, but it's also a very complicated problem to find places to put this. Taking it to the landfill simply fills up our precious landfill space with this material that we need for our day-to-day trash. And so if we displace that with all of this mud, then where does our trash go? So that's a very significant problem there.

We recognize there's a disposal issue, and we are working on trying to find a solution to that. The county of Santa Barbara is asking people that if they can incorporate the material on their landscape, that might be something they should look into. There's a lot of material out in the entire Montecito area and to remove all of that is probably going to be a daunting task, if not infeasible. And very expensive, because the disposal options now are very limited as well. So to the extent that this material can be used on onsite, that's what we've been asking for and then of course, in some instances you just have material that is intermixed with trash that has to be simply hauled off. There's no there's no other option there too. But it's trying to get that recovery effort to incorporate as much of this material into the new landscape if possible and feasible. 

KCBX: And where can people go if they want more information or want to stay up to date? 

FAYRAM: The County of Santa Barbara website, countyofsb.org, we'll have all the latest evacuation information on that website. And awareandprepare.org as well is where you should be registering your cell phone so you can get alerts from our Office of Emergency Management. Obviously with people having cell phones more more and more than landlines, there's no way to reach people geographically with a cell phone unless they register, so awareandprepare.org is where you have to register your phones so that we can contact you if we need to.

KCBX: Tom, thank you for speaking with me today. 

FAYRAM: Thank you very much.