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Environmental Protection

"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."   
Robert Swan, Arctic explorer and climate activist

The mission of the Goleta Sanitary District is to protect public health and the environment. This means that we are committed to making sure that the processes we use to treat wastewater are not only consistent with best practices in our field, but that we look beyond those best practices to find innovative solutions, explore new developments, and constantly think outside the box.  Beyond treating  wastewater we believe that having a sustainable business plan means that we become energy neutral. We have developed a plan to create more energy through enhanced biosolids treatment, reducing our need to purchase electricity. We have also reduced our greenhouse gas emissions through process improvements since 2014 averaging a reduction of 2 million pounds of greenhouse gas a year!

Our pledge of environmental protection goes beyond the treatment processes.  We have sponsored the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County for many years, encouraging other businesses to operate with an eye to environmental protection. In 2018, the Governing Board decided to become one of the region’s first public utilities certified as a green business. The District completed the certification process in February 2019 and is proud to say we are now a certified green business! Some of these steps included installing all low flow showers, toilets and faucets, using post-consumer paper products for all business interactions, tracking and posting of monthly electricity bills for all staff, and creating a commuter incentive program. The certification will be good for three years. The green business program reflects a core value of the District and demonstrates our commitment to be good stewards of our environment.

 Wastewater Treatment Process

The simplified infographic below shows how the District collects, cleans, disinfects, and recaptures valuable resources from wastewater using three types of processes: Physical, Biological and Chemical. First, the wastewater flows through 132 miles of underground pipes in our collection system (from your house) to the treatment plant facility. There are two pump stations (not pictured) that help a small portion of the wastewater flow to the plant. Most of the wastewater flows by gravity! From there the physical process begins in the primary clarifiers, and continues through the facility. It takes about 8-12 hours for the process to turn wastewater into either recycled water for landscape use, or purified water which flows out to the ocean, a mile off shore of Goleta Beach at a depth of 90 feet.

The physical processes are shown in orange lettering, biological processes are in blue, and chemical processes are shown in red. Biosolids processing is shown in white lettering. We recapture safe biosolids from the process to use as soil amendments. Wastewater Treatment Process


  • Mission:

    We protect public health and the environment through cost-effective wastewater collection, treatment, and resource recovery to meet present and future community needs.

  • Vision:

    To be the Region’s Leader in Water Resource Recovery through Excellence and Innovation.

  • Values:

    We value our Community, the People we Serve, and the Environment we Protect by: Acting with Integrity, Being Dependable, Being Responsible, Being Safe and, Being Innovative.