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Santa Barbara County responds to debris flow concerns

Posted at 4:00 PM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 21:59:54-05

Santa Barbara County responded to a report by the LA Times that claims the county did little prevent the destructive mudslides in Montecito.

The article published on Thursday said the county failed to adequately maintain debris basins, only partially clearing them out ahead of the mudslides.

Those basins are built to catch boulders, trees and brush that can be swept away in heavy storms.

LA Times article suggests Santa Barbara Co. neglected debris basins prior to Montecito mudslide

On Saturday Santa Barbara County Public Works released a video and a statement disputing those claims.

The county stated in its press release that they removed all debris that was present in 11 debris basins. It said unlike basins that are concrete lined, Santa Barbara County basins are dirt and rock pits, therefore even when the basins are empty there is still dirt and rocks at the bottom of the basin.

According to the press release, the County of Santa Barbara’s Debris Basin Maintenance Plan required basins to be cleaned when it is 25 percent full and after a fire, regardless of how much is in the basin. The department of public works said they strictly follow this policy.

The county said the 11 basins in question were cleared of debris and were consistent with their basin maintenance plan.

“We were certainly in a time crunch because the fire was still burning in these mountains while we entered these debris basins and we didn’t know when the next rainstorm was going to happen, that’s why we mobilized the assistance of contractors and got this and other basins completed by January 5th, 2018 as we documented in our news conference,” Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara County Public Works deputy director, said.

The mudslides killed 23 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

To see Santa Barbara County’s full video click here.

To read the full LA Times article click here.