News Feature | January 23, 2018

Water District Sued Over Montecito Mudslides

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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Did a California water district have a role in this month’s Montecito mudslides that took the lives of at least 21 people?

“Several residents of Santa Barbara County are suing a major California power company, saying it was responsible for a massive wildfire that stripped hillsides of vegetation that could have prevented the recent mudslides,” CNN reported.

The civil complaint filed in state superior court also takes aim at Montecito Water District Financing Corporation.

The lawsuit claims the corporation was responsible “in part for the heavy damage caused by the mudslides because a pipe broke, allowing 9 million gallons of water to combine with rainwater to produce mudflows,” the report said.

“The Montecito Water District is accused of failures in the operation and maintenance of its highline water main...The complaint alleges the rupture increased the magnitude of the flooding and the damage,” NoozHawk reported.

“The three residents and one business suing are seeking damages that would be determined at a jury trial. The plaintiffs say they suffered injuries in the mudslides,” the report said.

The lawsuit seeks a judgement covering the costs of repairing or replacing property, emotional distress, living expenses, lost wages, earnings, and business profits, among other fees.

The Southern California community of Montecito was struck by devastating mudslides on January 9.

“A powerful storm brought down boulders and trees from hillsides in Montecito made bare by last month's wildfires. At least 21 people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged. A 17-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl remain missing,” the Associated Press reported.

Montecito Water District provides water to about 4,500 customers in an area where the population is growing quickly.

To read more about how municipalities deal with heavy rainfall visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.

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