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As Montecito cleanup continues, a search for where to dump thousands of tons of mud

Alene Tchekmedyian, Melissa Etehad and Javier Panzar, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

A lawsuit filed on behalf of four Santa Barbara County residents accuses Southern California Edison and the Montecito Water District of negligence that contributed to the damage wrought by the Thomas fire and then the rains last week. The lawsuit was filed in Santa Barbara County last week and updated Tuesday.

The lawsuit said the Montecito Water District is responsible for some of the damage during last week's storm. According to the lawsuit, a water main running between two reservoirs ruptured Jan. 9 and released "8 (million) to 9 million gallons into creeks in the area." Shutoff valves should have been activated automatically, but that system failed because of a power outage, according to the lawsuit.

Nick Turner, general manager of the Montecito Water District, confirmed Saturday that the 14-inch pipeline connecting reservoirs at the top of the district was washed out in six spots, slowly releasing up to 8 million gallons of water kept in storage.

Debris flows also knocked out a 100-foot section of the pipeline to Jameson Lake, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of the area's water supply.

A Montecito Water District spokeswoman did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment about the lawsuit.

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