Due to the increased flooding risk to adjacent properties and the City of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County will begin an emergency dredging operation at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh approximately April 3. Operations will continue until June. Dredging equipment may be delivered to the marsh through Carpinteria area streets and beach access points. The beach area within 400 feet of the marsh mouth will be closed to public access. Some trails in the marsh will also be closed intermittently. The Santa Barbara County Flood Control District is working with the Santa Barbara Land Trust, UC Santa Barbara, the City of Carpinteria, and the community to ensure the safety of the community and wildlife and minimize disruption to the community.
After the creek flows receded following the extreme rains from January and following the storms over the past two months, the Carpinteria Salt Marsh revealed an extreme amount of sedimentation. This sedimentation obstructs Santa Monica Creek and Franklin Creeks. When these channels are obstructed, the community is at increased risk for flooding throughout the City of Carpinteria. Obstructed channels also interrupt the tidal cycle in the marsh, which reduces habitat for fish and wildlife that rely on open water channels for habitat and foraging.
The County will use hydraulic dredge vessels to remove sediment from the drainage channels in the marsh. The hydraulic dredge vessel exports water and sediment through a discharge pipe into the surf zone at a designated location near the mouth of the Salt Marsh. The dredge will operate up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to expedite the operation. The marsh was dredged similarly following the 1/9/18 Debris Flow.
On Monday, January 9, 2023, Santa Barbara County proclaimed a local emergency due to the January 2023 storm impacts. Dredging operations are conducted through emergency permits from state and federal agencies. Sediment within the marsh has been sampled and tested. Flood Control and Environmental Health staff will perform ocean water samples twice per week during operations. Weekly reports with information on sampling results are sent to regulatory agencies.
Sampling results are posted at https://www.countyofsb.org/emergencybeachops.