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Brakes applied to water trucking

By Lea Boyd
Buried in the Santa Barbara County zoning code is language that prohibits a lucrative-though-lamentable business sprung from the drought, that of trucking Carpinteria’s precious groundwater from private wells to Montecito estates. The act has achieved quite a bit of notoriety over the past few months, with water trucks looping along the edge of town to carry anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 gallons per trip out of the thirsty valley and onto the open market.

“The big red trucks that you’ve been seeing, they’re hauling water up to Montecito,” CVWD General Manager Charles Hamilton told the district’s board of directors on Sept. 10.

Reports of the business—which initially appeared to be legal but has been scorned as unethical—led CVWD to the office of First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and to the county planning and development department, where Director Glenn Russell informed district staff that anyone engaging in water sales from county agricultural land would be violating the zoning code.

“I think this is going to be a problem that goes away,” Hamilton said.

Three sellers have been identified within the valley, and two have given Hamilton their word that they would cease water sales. The going rate, Coastal View News learned from an anonymous source, is 3 to 4 cents per gallon paid to the well owner, and water-desperate Montecito clients pay around 10 cents per gallon to water truckers. CVWD Boardmember June Van Wingerden, who owns a local flower-growing nursery, reported that purchases from the well owners amount to just $30 to $40 per truckload.

Thanks to a robust groundwater supply, Carpinteria Valley is well off water-wise compared to its neighbors. Nonetheless, customers have been asked to cut back their water use by 20 percent as CVWD’s main water source, Lake Cachuma, shrinks daily. Underground aquifers will serve a critical need if the drought continues into 2015.

“The groundwater is a shared resource,” CVWD Board President Matt Roberts said, “and we don’t want folks using it for selfish reasons, like selling it for a profit.”

Most of the private wells in Carpinteria Valley exist on Santa Barbara County properties zoned for agriculture, from which water sales cannot be permitted. Selling water from a private well within the City of Carpinteria would require a conditional use permit and coastal development permit.

“Where the buyers of this water are going to go I don’t know, but they’re not going to be able to get it out of Carpinteria Valley,” said Hamilton.

Anyone who notices a water truck leaving the valley can report it to the county at 568-3558.

In other water news
70 percent of CVWD customers have reduced their water use compared to this time last year. The district has achieved an overall voluntary reduction in water use of just over 20 percent.
Worrisome vibrations from the motor of the El Carro Well pump are undergoing a $27,000 fix to ensure the mechanism is in good shape for potential heavy use if the drought continues.
A grant secured by Cachuma Resource Conservation District will cover the $40,000 to $50,000 needed for a California Irrigation Management Information System to provide Carpinteria-specific data on evapotranspiration rates, information that will help local farmers determine watering needs.
CVWD will consider a draft ordinance at its Sept. 24 meeting that sets water use restrictions, such as prohibited irrigation times, and implements a fine structure for customers who fail to comply. Fines are anticipated to begin at $25 and increase to $300 if a customer continues to violate the regulations.

Avofest lifts the curtain on new taste sensations

Avofest lifts the curtain on new taste sensations

By Lea Boyd
The California Avocado Festival is turning 28 this year, and as so many 20-somethings do when they are fast approaching 30, the three-day celebration of avocados is working hard to stay hip, edgy and fun. This year, festival organizers are focused on “cool beer, cool music and cool food all paired together,” according to Boardmember Mike Lazaro. A stroll through the 2014 festival, scheduled for Oct. 3 to 5, will reveal two palate pleasers that are cool in more ways than one—new avocado ice cream and Avocado Ale. “I’m excited to keep things current,” Lazaro said. “Each year we’re going to look at what we can introduce that’s new.”

Avocado ice cream
Ellie Patterson, who owns Montecito ice cream shop Scoop with husband Bob, loves experimenting with new flavors, particularly when ingredients include locally grown produce. Lemon lavender, initially developed for the Ojai Lavender Festival, has become a huge hit, and she’ll be serving Tom Shepherd cucumber mint sorbet at the Santa Barbara SOL Food Festival this weekend. So when the California Avocado Festival asked if Scoop would be interested in creating its signature avocado ice cream, Ellie jumped at the opportunity.

“We’re very excited and very honored,” Ellie said of Scoop’s new role as avo ice cream suppliers.

Avofest Food Chair Anthony Staal worked with Ellie to come up with a tastebud-pleasing recipe, one in which the creamy sweetness provides a foundation for the subtle flavor of avocado. “It’s got a nice hint of avocado without being overly avo-ish,” said Staal. “It’s a well balanced flavor.”

“While we’re mixing it, we do tastings,” Ellie explained. She said that more avocados were added as she and Staal fine-tuned the flavor, as well as a dash of lemon, “just to perk up the avocado.”

Scoop is a small batch operation, where the largest volume produced at one time is 8 liters of ice cream, gelato or sorbet. The Avofest’s initial order is for 155 liters, and Ellie said Scoop will produce the ice cream just before the festival opens on Oct. 3. Carpinteria avocados are on order for the ice cream, and Wiggy Ranch has sponsored the booth.

Past avocado ice cream suppliers, McConnells and Cold Stone, have created the novelty flavor with guacamole-style spices and flavors. Staal anticipates that this year’s blend will be more popular with its toned down ingredient list that really highlights the avocado.

The recipe and the brand are not the only changes to the festival’s avo ice cream approach. For the first time, the festival will sell the sweet stuff as a means of giving back to the community rather than simply providing a vendor space to an avo ice cream maker.

Festival organizers aim to raise $10,000 in ice cream sales alone to benefit Avofest’s youth scholarship fund. In total, the festival hopes to give $20,000 toward local youth education through ice cream sales, tips at the beer and wine booths and a donation from Surf ‘n’ Suds Beer Festival.

Avocado Ale
“Nope, it’s not green. It’s not goopy. It looks like your typically blonde beer,” this is how Dieter Foerstner, brewmaster for Angel City Brewery, responds to common questions about his Avocado Ale. Foerstner first brewed his popular beer in 2012 using avocados he pulled off his grandparents’ trees in San Diego. Since then, the beer has gained popularity and fame—an ale made with green, fleshy fruit has proven to be an attention getter.

This year, Foerstner’s heady concoction will be in the hands of hundreds, maybe thousands, of California Avocado Festival attendees. For the first time, the festival that pays homage to avocados will include a beer that does just that.

When Foerstner developed the ale, he paired his favorite fruit with ingredients found in best-loved guacamole recipes: cilantro, crushed red pepper, garlic and lime. “They all do well as showcasing the star of the show—the California avocado,” Dieter said.

He added the avocados—five pounds per keg—and their support staff at the end of the boil, the point in the brewing process when hops are added to balance the sugars before their conversion to alcohol. The beer behind it all is light, allowing the delicate avocado flavor to shine through. Dieter said that Avocado Ale drinkers may experience a slight tang of lime and a very light burn from the crushed pepper. “We achieved our goal,” he concluded.

Festival Boardmember Mike Lazaro agreed that the “flavor is great” and the beer is light and refreshing. Island Brewing Company, he said, was approached to partner with the festival but was unable to supply its own version of an avocado brew. Fans of IBC’s popular avocado honey ale can find it served up cold all Avofest weekend at the tasting room, 5049 6th Street.

Foerstner and his band of Los Angeles-based beer aficionados are looking forward to attending the festival and witnessing the reception of their ale. “Any excuse to eat avocados and celebrate California’s green gold, I’m all about,” he said.

CHS boys water polo to test young, fit squad

CHS boys water polo to test young, fit squad

By Peter Dugré
Seniors Chris Fedderson, Noah Reed and captain Sergio Castañeda will lead a promising group of sophomores and freshmen on the Carpinteria High School boys water polo team this season. First-year head coach Matt Organista highlighted Castañeda’s water polo IQ as an asset in leading the seven other sophomore and freshmen contributors.

The team has so far collected a 19-16 overtime win against Camarillo High School and an 18-0 win over Channel Islands High School. The long-haul win over Camarillo was the first demonstration of the team’s superior fitness level, which appears to be a second half advantage.

The team did not fair as well at the Los Altos Tournament, where it posted a 0-4 record against a slate of Division One squads on Sept. 12 and 13. It was in the second half, Organista said, that the team demonstrated that a key strength is its stamina. Against Chadwick High School, the Warriors trailed 13-5 before going on an 8-1 run to close the game with a narrow, 14-13 loss.

“When we get in the pool, we’re definitely the fitter team,” Organista said. He said the nerves of the young squad at Los Altos, where they faced many upperclassmen who were being recruited for NCAA schools might have been the biggest hurdle. “We learned a lot about our team,” he said of the “mental barrier” that the squad will chip away at.

Malik Mehai, Salvador Briceno, Forrest Van Stein and Eric Thornburgh are among the sophomores who could surprise Tri-Valley League this season. Freshmen Wyatt Stevenson, Jordan Perez and Ryan Fly also will gain valuable experience this season. Van Stein’s hole set play has developed beyond his grade-level, Organista noted.

“I would like to go to CIF. That’s all I really have on my mind right now,” Organista said. “It would be a huge confidence booster for these guys to know they made it as freshmen and sophomores.”

All-organic, all-local Americana makes music scene

All-organic, all-local Americana makes music scene

By Peter Dugré
The idea was simple. Invite musicians to jam in public and play off each other. “It’s an excuse to play a wide range of music,” commented Ted Rhodes, the guitar and harmonica player who inspired the group of players, now called Americana at Lucky Llama, who play every Friday afternoon, 3-ish to 6-ish, under the Torrey Pine at Lucky Llama Coffee House. As many as 10 musicians rotate through a growing repertoire of folksy, Americana blue grass songs with a mix of originals.

There’s a banjo player from Tuscon and other vacationers, professional musicians, have popped in to strum their strings. “Anyone who wants to do a song is welcome,” Rhodes said, of the loosely organized protocol. “It’s ensemble playing. We play the types of songs we like to play and others can pick up pretty easily.” Instruments typically include guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, stand-up bass, harmonicas and sometimes an accordion.

“It’s been a lot of fun, just what I’ve been looking for,” Rhodes said. “People show up who really enjoy playing music.”

A core group has practically grown into a band and will branch off to a gig at Carpinteria Arts Center, 855 Linden Ave., under the name Americana Cats on Saturday, Sept. 20. The group will provide musical entertainment from 4 to 7 p.m. alongside the inaugural Artists Marketplace, where local artists will gather for a monthly exhibit and sale of their work.

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