Santa Barbara Awarded $10 Million Desalination Grant

The city of Santa Barbara has been awarded a $10 million grant by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to offset the $72 million cost of reactivating the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.

 Santa Barbara Desalination Plant Aerial

Santa Barbara Desalination Plant Aerial

The desalination plant has been a permanent part of the city’s water supply portfolio since 1994, and in its reactivated state has been supplying water to city water customers since May 2017.

The plant serves a key role in providing a high-quality, local, drought-proof supply that is available for health and safety needs despite rainfall conditions.

During reactivation, state-of-the-art technology and design practices were incorporated to minimize electrical demand and environmental impacts. The plant currently produces 3 million gallons of drinking water per day.

This is equivalent to 3,125 acre-feet of water annually or about 30 percent of the city’s demand.

 Santa Barbara Desalination Plant

Santa Barbara Desalination Plant

 Charles Meyer Desalination Facility Sign

Charles Meyer Desalination Facility Sign

“This grant provides a direct financial benefit to our customers,” said Joshua Haggmark, city water resources manager.

“Now in the seventh year of drought, the cost of providing water service has risen dramatically to ensure sufficient water is available to meet the needs of the community," he said.

"This grant will go a long way in helping to minimize the need for a large rate increase in the near future while providing much needed funding for water infrastructure,” he said.

DWR’s Round 4 Water Desalination Grant Program is funded by Proposition 1 which was passed by California voters as part of the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.

Proposition 1 provided $7.5 billion in funding to improve California’s water reliability through increased water supplies, protection and restoration of watersheds, water quality improvement, and increased flood protection.

Of that funding, $100 million in grants were set aside for brackish or seawater desalination projects.  

The city would like to acknowledge and thank State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson for her support of Prop. 1 and her support of Santa Barbara’s work toward drought resiliency and desalination.

Jackson was instrumental in making it possible for the city to compete for the grant funds given the accelerated scheduled for reactivation of the desal plant.

“As we work to address our region’s ongoing drought, it is critical that we invest in maintaining a reliable and safe water supply. I am proud that I was able to assist the city of Santa Barbara with securing this grant, as it helps ensure the city has a diverse and drought-resilient water system,” Jackson said.

For more information on the desal plant, visit or call the water resources division, 564-5378.

— Madeline Wood for city of Santa Barbara.

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Beverly Palmer, Santa Barbara

Green Program Expands to Bike Fix-It Stations

The Towbes Group, as part of its green program, has installed a bike fix-it station at Pacific Oaks Apartments, corner of Hollister Avenue and Pacific Oaks Drive, adjacent to the new bike lanes installed by the city of Goleta along Hollister Avenue.


This is the second, of five bike fix-it stations installed to date. The Towbes group said it expects to complete the installation of bike fix-it stations across the residential and commercial properties in Goleta by August.

Many residents at Towbes Group communities throughout Santa Barbara County live within biking distance to their work locations.

The Pacific Oaks Apartments community is within five miles of Goleta’s major employers.

Among working Pacific Oaks residents, 68 percent work within five miles of their apartments. A larger group, 84 percent of working Pacific Oaks residents, work within 12 miles of their apartments, the Towbes Group reports.

These figures are consistent with all Towbes apartment communities in Goleta, Towbes Group said.


The proximity of Pacific Oaks Apartments, along with the new and modified bike paths in the city of Goleta, makes bike commuting from this and all Towbes Group properties in Goleta easy, Towbes Group said.

“We want to foster a community that uses alternatives to driving, and the investments of bike fix-it stations, bike parking, and miles of bike paths around us are further evidence of what businesses, municipalities and individuals can all do to make it easier to leave the car at home,” said Craig Zimmerman, president of The Towbes Group.

The Towbes Green Program is a company-wide initiative to meet, and in some cases exceed, energy- and water-efficiency standards at new and existing properties; support alternative modes of transportation; and encourage environmentally-conscious living, Towbes Group said.

Currently, nearly 60 percent of the Towbes Group residential communities are Green Business certified, with two new certifications earned each year, the company reports.

To mark the installation, and bring awareness to the importance of bike use on the Central Coast for a positive impact on the environment, a commuter bike was donated by The Towbes Group. Bici Centro and the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition donated a commuter bike-apparel kit. Both were raffled.

By Jessica Doss for the Towbes Group

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Beverly Palmer, Santa Barbara

#805Strong: What to Do and How to Help

The biggest question most of us are asking concerning the #thomasflood in Montecito, is what can we do and how can we help? Below are a list of disaster relief events that you can support, which will go towards various relief funds and will help rebuild our city after the devastation. Let us stand together to see #santabarbarastrong again. 


1/22: The 37th Annual Messiah Sing-Along This event will be presented as a statement of unity and solidarity of our community in the wake of the recent devastating disasters. All proceeds will go toward the Unity Shoppe. 7:30pm. First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave. $15-$20. Call 965-4122.

1/26: Metal Concert for Victims of the Thomas Fire and Mudslide Ventura metal band Bone Maggot will headline this concert to raise funds for the recent disasters. Also performing will be bands Dark Vital Flames, Mulholland, and Slow Down. 8pm. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 1221 State St. $8-$10. Call 962-7776.

1/27: Santa Barbara Strong Benefit Concert Area high school students have come together to put on a benefit concert where all proceeds will be donated to the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund. Enjoy performances by soloists, Jazz Villains, and Dos Pueblos Jazz Choir. 7pm. Elings Performing Arts Ctr., Dos Pueblos High School, 7266 Alameda Ave., Goleta. Donation: $10. Email


1/28: Quire of Voyces: The Mysteries of Christmas: A Healing Concert for Our CommunityThe Quire will sing music that soothes and heals. Firefighters and first responders can receive free tickets. 3pm. St. Anthony’s Chapel, Garden Street Academy, 2300 Garden St. $15-$20. Call 965-5935.

1/28: SoCal Strong Concert for Thomas Fire Victims Fund More than eight bands, including the Tearaways, will perform to raise money for victims of the recent fire. 3-11pm. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 1221 State St. $25-$200. Call 962-7776.

2/3: Thomas Fire Benefit Festival! The concert includes the Kevin Costner Band, Olivia Newton-John, Colbie Caillat, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and more. VIP includes food, wine and beer (for ages 21+), and the concert. General admission is for the concert only, and kids get in for free. VIP: 2-10pm. $200. GA: 4-10pm. Free-$50. Plaza Park, 651 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. $50-$200.

2/25: Kick Ash Bash Say thank you to our heroic first responders at this massive celebration. All funds collected will go toward all first-responder organizations. Ticket price and on-sale date are to be announced. Noon-6pm. Nesbitt Bella Vista Estate, 2800 Via Real, Summerland.


ONGOING: Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond Zodo’s is offering free bowling to residents affected by the mudslide in an attempt to offer a safe and uplifting place to spend time with family. Up to six people can share a lane. Show your ID (with zip code) and receive one complimentary game and shoe rental. 5925 Calle Real, Goleta. Call 967-0128.

ONGOING: S.B. Yoga Center Call to find out about the free and discounted services such as yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, and cupping for first responders and those affected by the Thomas Fire and mudslide. Specific offers continue through January 31 and February 28. 32 E Micheltorena St. Call 965-6045.

List of events courtesy of

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Do you know anyone who is displaced from their home due to the floods and needs help, if so please let me know? 

Beverly Palmer, Santa Barbara

Holiday Traditions

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of putting up a tree for Christmas came from? Or why we light a menorah for Hanukkah? Find out about the interesting origins of many holiday traditions right here.


Christmas tree: Christmas trees have a long history. During the pre-Christian era, trees symbolized a connection between heaven and Earth, according to Similar ideas are found in the Old Testament - trees symbolized wisdom and life. The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was done by Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, on Dec. 22, 1882. Trees did not become widely popular in the U.S. until the middle of the 18 th century, but have grown steadily in popularity. Every year, between 25 and 30 million Americans celebrate Christmas with trees.

Menorah: Menorah is a Hebrew word meaning "candelabrum." It refers to the nine-branched ceremonial lamp in which the Hanukkah candles are placed and then blessed, according to The menorah originated as a religious symbol in biblical times. Originally, oil was used in the menorah. Over time, candles were substituted for the oil. Today, the menorah is displayed in the window of most Jewish homes.

Christmas Tree

Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles, called Mishumaa Saba, are a staple of Kwanzaa tradition. These are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun's power and to provide light. Mishumma Saba is three red, a black and three green candles. The black candle is a celebration of being black, of the unique qualities each person brings to the whole family or community. The green candles are vision candles - candles of hopes, dreams, and promises for the future. The red candles are struggle candles, past candles, candles the color of blood and courage. According to, all seven candles help African-Americans to remember a long struggle against injustice.

Mistletoe: A revered plant, Mistletoe is interesting since it has no roots yet remains green during the cold months of winter. According to, Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the Mistletoe. People believed, and still do now, that those kissed under the Mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

Dogs kissing under misletoe

Giving gifts: Giving gifts is a complex and important part of human interaction, especially around the holidays, according to the The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Christmas gift giving was banned by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages due to its suspected pagan origins. It was later rationalized by the church on the basis that it associated St. Nicholas with Christmas, and that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to the infant Jesus. Today, gift giving is a staple of the holiday season, regardless of religious affiliation.

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Beverly Palmer, Santa Barbara