GOLETA, Calif. - Goleta Beach isn't seeing much foot traffic with the shelter at home order in place from the coronavirus, but there is a steady stream of dump trucks coming and going during business hours.
They are delivering mud and sediment from local debris basins that have filled during recent rain events. Once the material is unloaded from the trucks, a dozer pushes it into the surf zone where it will naturally disperse.
The material is coming from the San Ysidro, Cold Springs, Montecito, and Romero debris basins which were impacted by the 2017 Thomas Fire.
Trucks are also coming from the San Antonio Creek Debris Basin which was impacted by the Cave Fire in late November of 2019. It has filled up multiple times this year.
"We have a burned watershed up above," said Santa Barbara County Flood Control Senior Environmental Planner, Seth Shank. "With any significant rain event we can still get lots of material coming down into our systems, into our urban interface. We need to keep our debris basins clear of any debris and rocky material in order to prepare for any future rain events that we have."
Shank said the county is permitted to truck about 15,000 cubic yards of material to the beach. Trucks are hauling loads of 10 cubic yards each back and forth around 100 times a day.
The material is analyzed for chemicals and grain size, according to Shank. He also says the ocean water is tested for bacteria.
This is the third year consecutive debris basins have been cleared and dispersed to Goleta Beach.
"In years past we've seen the beach actually gets built up from putting this material out there," Shank said. "We want to encourage that here at Goleta Beach where we are seeing a lot of beach erosion."
Work began on March 20 and is expected to continue for 3-4 weeks.