Here at 1% for the Planet we appreciate a quality septic system. Prior to the Irene flood we never really had to think about where our waste went – a flush of the toilet and it was out of sight, out of mind. Well, thanks to the flood, we had the opportunity to get much more familiar with our effluent. It was in the office and better yet, in our water supply! So, we’ve learned firsthand how damaging and smelly sewage can be.
Although septic systems can be smelly, they’re necessary if you don’t have access to sewer pipes. Septic tanks work something like this, and if not properly taken care of, sewage can make its way into the water table. Sewage is full of nitrates and phosphates that can cause eutrophication – or an overload of nutrients. Over time this eutrophication leads to hypoxia, or the creation of anoxic dead zones in marine ecosystems.
Since 1998, Heal the Ocean, a 1% for the Planet partner, has focused on ridding 7 miles of beach and 171 homes on the Santa Barbara coast of their septic systems. The beach starts at Rincon Point, a world-class surfing destination, and continues up the coast to Sand Point and Sandyland, much of which is sandwiched between the ocean and a saltwater marsh.
Thanks to Patagonia, Jack Johnson, Certis Capital Management, and Betty Belts, Heal the Ocean was able to spearhead the septic-to-sewer conversion of the 171 homes. According to Heal the Ocean’s executive director Hillary Hauser, the organization’s pride and joy of its environmental work is actual infrastructure replacement and/or upgrade that removes or reduces sources of ocean pollution.
Happily, construction of the sewer lines is expected to start sometime this year following a long, hard fought battle where 1% is happy to have played a role. Congratulations to Heal the Ocean!
P.S. – After our third water test, we’re clean! The test came back negative for coliform and ecoli! Thanks Hurricane Irene.