Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Santa Ana Bridge replacement awarded $13.4M grant

On May 13, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a $13,426,938 funding award to Ventura County Watershed Protection District for the Santa Ana Bridge Replacement - a component of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.  This is one of 38 projects statewide totaling $48.5 million to receive funding for multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects under its Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 grant programs.

The Santa Ana Bridge Project is the first major component of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, which will remove the obsolete dam to restore habitat for the endangered Southern steelhead while allowing for natural transport of sand and cobble to Ventura County’s eroding beaches.   Dam removal will take advantage of high river flows to naturally remove the accumulated sediment that has rendered Matilija Dam obsolete. These renewed flows necessitate a number of downstream infrastructure components that must be completed prior to dam removal, including upgrades to flood control and water supply facilities, as well as the replacement of two bridges.  

The grant will fund replacement of the existing 210-foot long Santa Ana Bridge with a 350-foot bridge to open up a constricted section of the river in Oak View.   Widening the channel by 80 feet will improve water and sediment flows, facilitate natural ecosystem processes through restoration of natural sediment transport and deposition, and reduce the need for channel maintenance in the vicinity of the bridge following large storm events.  A new 6’ sidewalk and two 4’ shoulders on each side of the new bridge’s vehicle travel lanes will also facilitate safe passage for bicycles and pedestrians near the Santa Ana Boulevard crossing of the Ojai-Ventura River Trail.

The Ventura County Watershed Protection District has been planning this large scale ecosystem restoration project since 1999, and began restoration activities in 2008 with removal of giant reed (Arundo donax) and construction of a new trailhead at Baldwin Road.  Studies currently underway under another $3.3 million California Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposition 1 grant received by the county in May, 2017 will lead to design and construction of the other downstream improvements before dam removal.   

Components of Matilija Dam project are illustrated here 

All Matilija Dam technical documents are at matilijadam.org

Google image of Ventura River, Santa Ana Bridge in foreground

Floodplain analysis illustrates "choke point" in the Ventura River

the new bridge’s vehicle travel lanes will facilitate safe passage for bicycles and pedestrians
 near the Santa Ana Boulevard crossing of the Ojai-Ventura River Trail
Bridge replacement will reduce the need for channel maintenance -
accumulated sediment currently requires regular removal to provide adequate free board during floods
Santa Ana Bridge during high flows - "vanes" intended to
improve flows will be removed with bridge replacement

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ventura River post-fire sedimentation 2019

Recent delta deposits in Matilija Reservoir, February 24, 2019

The Ventura River watershed is responding to the December 2017 Thomas Fire which burned the majority of the steep mountains in the headwaters.  In 2019, winter storms produced three significant flow events in the Ventura River.  These flows eroded additional sediment from the recently burned mountains and into the creeks and rivers.  Highway 33 above Ojai was closed following each event due to sediment overwhelming culverts and blocking the highway.  These photos of recent sedimentation in the Ventura River watershed were submitted with comments on a recent draft Matilija Dam Removal Sediment Transport Analyses report that is part of the ongoing Matilija Dam Technical Studies.

Matilija Reservoir, recent delta deposits March 11, 2019

Matilija Reservoir, recent delta deposits March 11, 2019
(note bubbles from submerged vegetation)

Matilija Reservoir delta, March 11, 2019
vegetation effects on sediment accretion and erosion
Matilija Reservoir delta, March 11, 2019
vegetation effects on sediment accretion and erosion
Matilija Canyon, Feb 19, 2019
Matilija Canyon, Feb 19, 2019

Sedimentation in North Fork Matilija Creek,
Wheeler Gorge Campground. Jan 29, 2019
Sedimentation at Ventura River Preserve, Nov 24, 2018
 Before: “swimming hole”  15+ ft deep
Sedimentation at Ventura River Preserve,  Feb 19, 2019
After: “swimming hole” previously 15+ ft deep

Sedimentation at Robles Diversion Dam, Feb 24, 2019
The facility was cleaned out at least twice to renew diversion capacity
from the Ventura River into Lake Casitas 

Ventura Rivermouth, March 18, 2019

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Winter swells and high tides

California saw two large swell events in January 2019, both coinciding with high tide events.

Swells generated in the north Pacific Ocean during winter months seasonally create large waves and surf in Southern California.  The CDIP model (Coastal Data Information Program) illustrates how west swells travel through the Santa Barbara channel with the energy focused on Ventura.

The January 9 swell had 14 ft waves at 15 seconds from a 280 degree westerly direction.  High tide was 5.1 ft at 10:26 am.

The January 18 swell had more energy with 16 ft at 17 seconds from 285 degrees, and 6.1 ft high tide at 6:36 am.

Although the swell dropped during the 6.8 ft "King Tide" on January 20, similar overtopping was observed along the promenade in Ventura.

The following is a collection of photos from these high surf, high tide events.

Ventura's Pierpont community suffered minor flooding with both these events, with wave runup into the streets in areas without dune protection.

Pierpont beach 1-09-2019 (photo: CSUCI)

Pierpont beach 1-09-2019 Pierpont beach 1-09-2019 (photo: CSUCI)

Pierpont beach 1-18-2019 (photo: Shawn Kelly)

The Ventura promenade was overtopped along its length.

Ventura Promenade Aerial 1-18-2019  (photo KGaston)
Ventura Promenade 1-18-2019

Ventura Promenade 1-18-2019
Ventura Promenade aerial view  1-18-2019  (photo KGaston)

Ventura Promenade emergency revetment 1-18-2019
Surfers Point bike path 1-20-2019
6.8' King Tide on this day had similar effect as the larger swell two days before

Surfers Point bike path 1-09-2019
Surfers Point bike path damage after swell 1-09-2019
Surfers Point bike path 1-18-2019  (photo KGaston)
Surfers Point bike path 1-18-2019

Surfers Point aerial -Fairgrounds parking lot 1-19-2019  (photo KGaston)

Surfers Point  1-19-2019 (photo KGaston)

 The Managed Retreat project functioned as designed, with eroded sand exposing the buried cobble berm, and minor overtopping into the foredune area.

Surfers Point Managed Retreat 1-1-09-2019
Surfers Point Managed Retreat 1-1-09-2019
Surfers Point Managed Retreat 1-09-2019

Although the swell and tide were higher on the 18th, driftwood and debris from the Ventura river  reduced wave runup in the managed retreat zone.
Surfers Point Managed Retreat 1-18-2019

Surfers Point Managed Retreat 1-18-2019


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Surfers' Point project moves forward

On January 22, 2019, the Ventura County Fair Board unanimously voted in support of the conceptual plan for Phase 2 of the Managed Shoreline Retreat Project.  Many thanks to the board members and all those who took time out of their morning to learn more about the project and show their support!

Concept Plan for Phase 2 of the Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat Project, Feb 2019

Last year the Fair board voted in support of a successful grant request to the California Ocean Protection Council which will provide the funding to complete final engineering and design in 2019.   Assuming grant funding is secured, this opens the potential for project construction by 2021.

In the meantime, this year's high tides and winter swells continue to damage the bike path, making  progress more critical than ever.

More info:  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

LightHawk KingTide flight

On January 21-22, Surfrider Foundation partnered with LightHawk to fly over coastal areas around the country and document the King Tide.  Twice a year, King tides occur when the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun are in alignment, causing higher than normal ocean tides. King Tides provide an opportunity to see what normal high tides are going to look like in the near future due to sea level rise.

On the morning of January 21, I joined Ventura City Councilmember Christy Weir, and Alex McIntyre, Ventura City manager for a flight along the Ventura County coast.  Volunteer Pilot Thomas AmRhein expertly handled his Cesna as we covered 30 miles of coast from Port Hueneme to Carpinteria.  The tide was 7.0 ft above mean sea level at 8:40am.  "Normal" high tides are around 5ft to 6 ft for most of the year.

These are some of the photos, arranged from north to south:

Pitas Point overview, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Pitas Point, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Solimar Beach, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Ventura Rivermouth and Surfers' Point, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Pierpoint, Ventura, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019
Santa Clara rivermouth and Ventura Wastewater Treatment Plant, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019
Ventura Harbor, Ventura Wastewater Treatment Plant, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

McGrath Lake, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019
Mandalay Power Plant, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Oxnard Shores, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Port of Hueneme, LightHawkVentura_1-19-2019

Many thanks to the good folks at LightHawk for making this flight possible!

LightHawk is the largest environmental flying organization in the country. Founded in 1979, LightHawk engages a network of almost 300 volunteer pilots to provide more than 400 flights each year. Partnering with more than 100 conservation organizations, LightHawk works to help solve pressing river, ocean, land and wildlife problems. Flights enable decision-makers, funders, scientists, media and community members to understand landscapes in a uniquely experiential way, inspiring them to make a difference.


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