Facility Upgrades


FOG Facility

FOG stands for fats, oils and grease
The new FOG facility at El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant
receives and pumps FOG material to anaerobic digesters. 

The anerobic digesters convert “grease to gas”
utilizing the waste stream of selected fats, oils, and grease
collected by Marborg Industries from area restaurants. 

 Marborg, a locally owned and operated business, collects, screens, and delivers FOG liquids to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, thus reducing hauling and disposal costs.

History - El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant

The City of Santa Barbara’s first sewers were constructed in the 1870’s. in 1925 the City constructed a "screening plant" and ocean discharge outfall. The mechanically operated screens removed solids and debris immediately before the untreated wastewater was discharged into the ocean. The discharge occurred through 3,400 feet of 42 inch diameter cement pipeline terminating at an ocean depth of 42 feet.

The City’s growing population and increased environmental awareness led to the construction of El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant (El Estero) in 1951. El Estero provided state of the art pre-aeration and primary sedimentation for the City’s wastewater.

In 1972, the federal Water Pollution Act amendments became law. The amendments mandated more stringent regulations for the protection of water bodies receiving wastewater discharges. The law required that by 1983, all dischargers of treated wastewater must provide secondary treatment.

Anticipating the new law, in 1971 the City hired "Engineering Science," a firm specializing in the design of facilities for wastewater treatment and discharge. The firm’s recommendations for the treatment scheme and facilities needed to meet the new discharge requirements resulted in construction of the present Wastewater Treatment Plant.

1n 1971 the Santa Barbara electorate approved a bond issue of $7.7 million. The major share of the construction and related costs was provided by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($24.4 million) and the state of California Water Resources Control Board ($4.1 million).

Construction of El Estero was completed in 1979, providing secondary treatment to the wastewater. Secondary treatment uses a biological process (activated sludge) to convert dissolved or suspended solid materials into a form more readily separated from the water being treated.

In 1987, the City continued upgrading El Estero with the construction of a tertiary water reclamation facility to provide recycled water for irrigation. Recycled water is supplied to parks, schools, commercial landscapes, golf courses, public restrooms, and more; thereby freeing up potable water for other uses in the City. Visit our Recycled Water page for more information.