Restaurants in Montecito, Summerland ordered closed over water safety concerns

Public health officials ordered restaurants in Montecito and Summerland to close late Wednesday over concerns about possible water contamination after massive mudflows burst water pipes and sheared fire hydrants.

Businesses can sell unopened, prepackaged food but cannot not prepare, handle or serve meals or fresh produce until authorities lift the boil-water notice, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. It’s not clear when that will be.

The Montecito Water District — which serves about 4,500 ratepayers and includes about 13,100 residents in Montecito and Summerland — issued the notice Tuesday, urging residents to boil water for a minute before using or consuming.

“This means not using the water to wash the dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands,” said Susan Klein-Rothschild, deputy director for the health department. “We’re concerned about harmful bacteria and parasites.”

Those who don’t follow the recommendation, officials warned, could get stomach or intestinal illnesses.

The storm caused extensive damage to the district’s water supply infrastructure, and officials don’t know how long repairs will take.

“The force of this debris flow, from what I’m understanding, was phenomenal,” Klein-Rothschild said. “We should treat [the water] as contaminated to protect ourselves.”

By Wednesday afternoon, some households in Toro Canyon were without running water, Nicholas Turner, the water district’s general manager, told reporters. Further outages were expected throughout the district.

Those in need can pick up water at the following locations from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday:

  • The shopping center at the southwest corner of East Valley and San Ysidro roads
  • The Montecito fire station at Cold Spring and Sycamore Canyon roads

Additional distribution sites may be announced later.

Authorities also ordered beachgoers to stay out of the ocean from Goleta down to the Santa Barbara County line, because tests show that bacteria levels exceed the safe standard, Klein-Rothschild said.

The drinking water in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and other surrounding communities not served by the Montecito Water District is safe, county health officials said.

alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @AleneTchek

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