by Montecito Water Department


Montecito Water District incurred damage to its infrastructure as a result of heavy rainfall and mudflows that took place on January 9, 2018. Below is information you may find useful in understanding the extent of the damages, the progress being made on repairs, and the impacts on District customers.


1. Highline Transmission Pipeline
District crews are continuing to work alongside contractors and neighboring agencies to make repairs to a 14-inch steel transmission main referred to as the “Highline”. This transmission main was compromised in 7 locations, all at creek crossings. This pipeline is critical to the District’s water distribution system, connecting the District’s storage reservoirs to one another and facilitating the movement of water throughout the distribution system. The Highline breaks require the replacement of large sections of pipe, measuring 40 to 225 feet in length and elevated up to 50 feet above the creek. Due to the mudslides, the site conditions have been drastically altered at each project location.

District water system operators and Contractors were deployed following the incident to initiate the required repairs at these locations, some temporary and some permanent, depending on the site conditions. To date, three of the breaks have been repaired with permanent solutions (i.e. excavating soil and encasing the pipe in concrete at a maximum depth and backfilling with rock). Due to the site conditions and complexities associated with permanent repairs at the other four crossings, temporary repairs have been installed at these locations. The temporary repairs involve the installation of 8-inch diameter HDPE pipe laid in alternate routes around the creek or above the creek. All crossings were repaired on or before January 18th.With the completion of all repairs to the Highline, the District is now moving water from the South Coast Conduit to its storage reservoirs located along the Highline. Although the temporary repairs will result in a reduction in capacity of the Highline, it will enable movement of water throughout the system, and bring the full system back online.

District staff is working with consultants, regulators and state/federal officials on the process of implementing permanent repairs at these remaining locations as soon as possible. The completion of permanent repairs will result in regaining full capacity of the pipeline; restoring fire protection capacity; and further reducing the risks associated with a heavy rain event that could compromise the temporary pipeline while permanent repairs are implemented

2. Jameson Lake/Juncal Transmission Pipeline
This pipeline is a dedicated 18-inch steel pipeline that delivers water from Jameson Lake to the Bella Vista Treatment Plant through the Doulton tunnel. This pipeline was compromised in 2 locations, measuring from 60 to 120 feet in length. Damage to the pipeline was caused by significant rockslides. The 8 mile long dirt access road to Jameson Lake is on U.S. Forest Service property and was not initially passable due to landslides. Working with a neighboring agency, the road was cleared and repairs to the pipeline commenced. The contractor began the repairs to the pipeline on January 17th. Repairs are expected to be completed by Monday, January 22nd. Once work is complete, lake deliveries will resume.

3. Distribution System
Pipelines – The distribution system was compromised in 13 locations. Nearly all of these locations are on bridge crossings at creeks. In some areas, the pipeline was damaged but remains in place and in others, the pipeline is completely destroyed. These pipes range from 6 to 12-inches in diameter and span 20 to 50 feet in length. With the help of local contractors, repairs to these crossings are being made. Five of the thirteen repairs have been completed. The remaining repairs are projected to be completed on or before January 21st. These repairs require significant coordination through the Office of Emergency Services with other utility agencies working in the area.

Fire Hydrants – 19 fire hydrants were sheared off during the mudflows. These damaged fire hydrants have been located, turned off to stop the flow of water, and have been either repaired or replaced.

Facility Shutoffs – With the help of City of Santa Barbara staff, crews performed a coordinated effort to inspect the entire District service area from East to West, searching for running water, locating leaking pipelines, valves, service lines, and fire hydrants and shutting down water to these facilities. Approximately 165 identified service line leaks have been temporarily shutoff. Because debris covered many of these facilities, this process required 4 days to complete. Pressure is now building in the system indicating that most of the system leaking has been stopped.

Pressure Regulating Valves (PRV) – During the incident, debris and mud filled many of the District’s underground vaults containing pressure regulators and valves. Pressure regulators are used to control system pressure between the District’s twenty-five pressure zones. Access to these regulators is vital to ensure proper operation once the system is up and running to avoid over pressurizing the system and causing additional pipeline breaks. With the assistance of vacuum trucks from the City of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria Sanitary District, all 52 pressure regulating stations were cleaned of debris and mud in anticipation of bringing the system back to normal operation.

There are isolated areas of the distribution system that have yet to be fully assessed for damage due to limited access. There are other areas where work remains prohibited due to the ongoing search and recovery effort. These areas have been isolated from the rest of the water system in an effort to move forward with bringing the rest of the system back online as quickly as possible. As more areas become accessible it is likely that, given the amount of destruction in these areas, additional damages will be identified.


Water Availability
The current availability of water varies depending on the location within the District. In general, properties located below East Valley Road (Hwy192) have had water at their tap since the incident. As repairs to the system are being made, water is becoming available to customers located above Hwy 192.

Boil Water Notice
On January 9, 2018, a Boil Water Notice was issued as a result of losing pressure in portions of the District’s water system during the mudflows, notifiying customers of the need to boil/disinfect all tap water used for drinking and cooking purposes. This Boil Water Notice remains in effect for most District customers. A cancellation of the Boil Water Notice has been issued for the following areas:

A. Summerland – All properties located east of and including Ortega Ridge Road to the ocean, south of and including Hunt Drive, and west of and including Greenwell Road / Asegra Road including Freesia Drive, Caspia Lane, Marguerita Way, and the Montecito Ranch Estates.

B. Upper Toro Canyon – All properties located on Toro Canyon Road north of East Valley Road (Hwy 192) except for 685, 693 and 695 Toro Canyon Road.

The interactive zone boundary map is available on the District’s website at and the County of Santa Barbara website The Boil Water Notice remains in effect for many Montecito Water District Customers. Further information on water treatment can be found on the District web site:
For clarity and customer convenience, An interactive map of the Montecito Water District Boundary (with noted exceptions described) depicts the areas where the Boil Water Notice has been cancelled. We will be updating this continuously in the coming weeks to depict any change in status.

Bottled Water Distribution Centers
Two accessible Emergency Potable Water Distributions Sites are in operation from 8am to 8pm daily:
• Summerland Post Office – 2245 Lillie Avenue
• Montecito Fire Station #2 at Cold Spring and Sycamore Canyon Rd. (192)
Inside the Mandatory Evacuation is a third site, not intended for public access, at the South West corner of East Valley Road and San Ysidro Road (Upper Village). Emergency water distribution will continue at these locations until further notice and any changes will be indicated on the District’s web site.


Water may be available at all taps as soon as Monday, January 22nd. Although water may be available or may become available at your property, it is important to note that all District customers remain under a Boil Water Notice unless otherwise indicated on our interactive District boundary map. (Please refer to the Interactive Map on the District website for most current information.

Restoration of service is anticipated the week of January 28th. With the system repairs scheduled to be completed, we have transitioned to a new phase in our recovery process involving: returning the system to its normal operating pressures; flushing any remaining debris from the system; super chlorinating the system; and performing bacteriological testing required by the California Division of Drinking Water. District staff, with input from the State Water Resources Control Board and other mutual aid agencies, are developing this plan now. Implementation of that plan is estimated to begin as soon as Saturday January 20th and may take between 5-10 days to complete. Upon completion, a cancellation of the Boil Water Notice is expected.

IMPORTANT: As service is restored, customers should anticipate periodic high levels of chlorine in the water. Further information will be provided. Areas where the Boil Water Notice has been lifted will not be affected.


Please note that the District Office is located inside a Mandatory Evacuation Zone and is not available for public access.
The most current information is posted on our web site:

For Customer Service or billing questions call: (805) 969-2271 or email:
After Hours Emergency Service* phone: (805) 969-2271

General Manager Nick Turner states:
“I’d like to recognize and extend heartfelt thanks to all 26 Montecito Water District employees who have worked non-stop since this incident began on January 9th. I can assure you that District staff has done a tremendous job making repairs to our system and that all are working as expeditiously as possible to get it fully functional.

In addition, we’ve had incredible levels of support. While the gratitude we express will be ongoing, at this time we would particularly like to thank the more than 100 personnel who have come to assist us thus far. They have arrived on short notice, bringing all manner of heavy equipment and specialized skills, and worked long days under unimaginably grueling conditions. We have had every possible resource needed to successfully complete the immediate repairs, from helicopter transport to satellite phones, gators and trailers for accessing the Jameson Lake projects, trained water distribution specialists and more. To the many mutual aid agencies and contractors who have rushed in to support us, including the Cities of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura and San Luis Obispo, Counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, State of California, Federal Government, Goleta Water District, Carpinteria Water District, Carpinteria Sanitary District, Tierra and Lash Construction, Alan Larson, ZWorldGIS, and so many others it’s impossible to name them all, we truly can’t thank you enough.”

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