There’s nothing worse than crappy surf. Well, except literally crappy surf.
It’s our universal aversion to surfing in human waste that has lead Rincon locals and environmental agencies in their impassioned campaign to convert the Rincon Point community from septic to sewer.
After nearly a decade, the vote was finally passed to replace the septic tanks on Rincon Point with a sewage system. The exclusive gated community, featuring 64 single-family homes overlooking the famed right-hand pointbreak, has been a source of concern, as sewage leakage from the decades-old septic system in place is believed to pose a major threat to water quality.
Leading the crusade, the Santa Barbara-based non-profit organization, Heal the Ocean, has focused much of their resources in recent years lobbying to pass the initiative to convert to sewer. They first became involved in the issue in 1998 when hundreds of surfers came to them to organize against the contamination of the favored break. Surfers were reporting URI infections (ears, nose throat), rashes (getting blisters like bacon), eye infections, and other such things. "We did a DNA test that showed no pollution on the upper side of Rincon creek, but in the lagoon the majority of fecal bacteria was human," says Heal the Ocean director Hillary Hauser.
After much controversy and allegations of fraudulent votes, essentially dividing the beachside community, a 52-percent majority vote was reached. As a result, Rincon Point will be annexed to the Carpinteria Sanitary District who will provide the sewage service for the area.
Although there are many supporters of the proposed changes, opponents of the conversion claim that the implementation of a sewage system may do little to minimize the overall water pollution on the point, as one of the major sources of the water pollution may be the ranches upstream which allow runoff to make its way down to the Rincon river mouth. A new sewage system will cost residents between $35,000 and $70,000 and the argument has been made that the time and money needed to then run lines all the way to Carpinteria, build a pump house, and pump all of that uphill is problematic.
"We expect to be in the final square this summer, and finished and building the project by fall," says Hauser. The Carpinteria Sanitary District is set to formally adopt a resolution in mid-June, accepting the vote, although it is predicted that the opponents of the septic to sewer project will contest the election. The forecast: slight possibility of shitty conditions to come.