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Santa Barbara - South County

Barge off East Beach fixing Santa Barbara desalination plant piping

Barge fixing desal piping
Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A barge off East Beach in Santa Barbara is turning heads. It’s a couple hundred yards from Stearns Wharf and been there since Monday. Santa Barbara’s Water Quality Superintendent, Gaylen Fair, said it will be there through Saturday. 

The barge is repairing the city’s water desalination piping.

Fair said this is normal maintenance on the piping that usually happens every couple of years.

"Routine maintenance," said Fair. "Investigating what's happening, checking out the materials and how they're responding to the ocean water. It's something we probably have to do once every two years."

Fair's team noticed a problem with the intake piping two weeks ago when they turned it off because of poor water quality in the ocean. Now they're hoping to get two projects done at once.

"While we're out there doing some repairs on the pump and investigating the other pump that's down there," said Fair. "There are two pumps at the bottom there about thirty feet at the bottom surface."

If you noticed Santa Barbara tap water tastes a bit different, that's because the city is relying on more surface water while the desalination plant is offline. The desalination plant is offline, but only makes up 25 percent of the city’s water supply. 

"This is one of the reasons that the city has worked so hard to have such a diverse water supply," said Fair. "We have surface water from Lake Cachuma and Gibraltar Reservoir. We have groundwater wells, we have our desal plant."

The Curtin Maritime company in Long Beach confirmed the barge is the DB Salta Verde. That's the same barge that worked on the Summerland oil capping in November. It also helped in the recovery effort for the Conception.


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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.

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