Tuesday, April 28, 2015

ChannelKeeper sues to save a drying river

The city of Ventura for decades has overpumped and diverted Ventura River water, threatening wildlife and water quality, and the agency responsible for protecting it is doing nothing, says a lawsuit filed September 22, 2014 against the State Water Resources Control Board.
.                   VCStar: Santa Barbara Channelkeeper sues for study of Ventura River water use

Ventura River at Foster Park - July 2013

According to ChannelKeeper;

“For 16 years, the State Water Board has recognized the Ventura River as impaired by pumping and diversion of water, yet has never conducted a Reasonable Use Analysis of the City’s pumping,” said Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s Watershed and Marine Program Director. “The recent drought has brought water supply concerns to the forefront, but this unreasonable use has been occurring for decades. We feel the river can't wait any longer."

Some stretches of the river that once flowed year-round now frequently go dry for months at a time, and surface flows in other stretches have been reduced to the point that water quality is severely degraded. Where flow is insufficient, water temperatures rise, algae proliferate and suck oxygen out of the river, and fish and other aquatic species that depend on a clean, flowing river suffer. At the same time, those who pump water from the river, particularly the City of Ventura, continue to do so at an unreasonable and unsustainable rate. This situation is heading toward a crisis, especially as the City discusses plans for significant growth, which would exacerbate the problem.

“This is an issue that really needs to be resolved by the City developing a truly integrated water management system to ensure that our limited resources are not wasted and to ensure the future sustainability of the community,” said Paul Jenkin, Environmental Director with Surfrider Foundation, Ventura chapter, and longtime river advocate.

Critical Victory in Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s Lawsuit to Restore Flows in the Ventura River

At a hearing in California Superior Court in San Francisco on Thursday April 23, 2015, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper won a critical victory in its lawsuit to restore flows in the Ventura River.  The Court affirmed that the SWRCB does indeed have a mandatory duty to prevent unreasonable use of California’s water and that Channelkeeper can seek to compel them to analyze the City of Ventura’s use of the Ventura River. The SWRCB is required to respond to Channelkeeper’s lawsuit within 21 days.

To review the lawsuit and supporting documentation, visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/i2tv6upf1x6ecex/AAAi550vU4F34DjdU598NzFxa?dl=0


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Watershed Management Plan released

The Ventura River Watershed Management Plan – watershed’s first comprehensive management plan – was approved by the Watershed Council on March 5, 2015.

The plan contains four parts and an executive summary, which can be downloaded as a complete document (800+ pages/149 mb), or as individual plan sections at http://venturawatershed.org.  Questions about the plan can be directed to Lorraine Walter, watershed coordinator, at lorraine@ovlc.org or 805/649-6852 x4.

See http://venturawatershed.org

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

US Climate Resilience Toolkit

The Surfers Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project is featured as a nationwide case study in a website outlining ways that individuals, businesses, and communities can respond to the challenges of our changing climate.

In response to the President’s Climate Action Plan and Executive Order to help the nation prepare for climate-related changes and impacts, U.S. federal government agencies, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality, gathered resources that can help people take action to build their climate resilience. The impacts of climate change—including higher temperatures, heavier downpours, more frequent and intense droughts, wildfires, and floods, and sea level rise—are affecting communities, businesses, and natural resources across the nation.

See: http://toolkit.climate.gov/taking-action/restoring-surfers-point-partnerships-persistence-pays

Thursday, January 8, 2015

National Recreation Trail dedication

The Ventura River Parkway Trail is now designated as a National Recreation Trail !
The Ventura River Parkway Trail was dedicated on June 7, 2014 as a National Recreation Trail!  Our national, state and local representatives were on hand for the dedication ceremony.  Certificates recognizing our National Recreation Trail status were presented to the City of Ventura and County of Ventura from the National Park Service.  Big THANK YOUs to Julia Brownley, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Das Williams, Brian Brennan, Ron Van Dyke and Carl Morehouse for their assistance and support in achieving this milestone as well as to many others who supported Friends’ efforts to make this dream a reality. Special recognition and thanks to Mark Capelli for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Ventura River. Additional appreciation to Patrick Johnston for his invaluable work in creating our Ventura RIver Parkway map.  Hats off to the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy for organizing the event at their beautiful Big Rock Preserve.
Ventura Hillsides Conservancy accepts a check from REI with local elected representatives at the dedication ceremony for the Ventura River Trail  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Presentations: KYH2O and Matilija Dam

Two recent presentations are now available for online viewing:

Why (Fresh) Water is Important to Surfers
November 21, 2013 - Channel Islands Maritime Museum.
This presentation describes the Ventura River watershed and Surfrider's "Know Your H2O" approach to solving the ongoing water management crisis.

Matilija Dam: Taking Another Look (A Brief History and Update)
March 22, 2014: Salmonid Restoration Federation Conference, Santa Barbara, CA
A summary of  the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration project and update on the 2014 special studies.

Matilija Dam: Taking Another Look (A Brief History and Update) from Salmonid Restoration Federation on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

California Adaptation Forum

August 19, 2014:  Surfers' Point at the California Adaptation Forum in Sacramento.
This conference attracted over 800 participants from around the state including "elected officials, public- and private-sector leaders, nonprofits and researchers addressing public health, energy, water, emergency management, agriculture, biodiversity conservation and coastal management issues associated with climate change and adaptation."

Surfers' Point serves as a case study for "Managed Shoreline Retreat, a viable response to coastal erosion and sea level rise, and a strategy for climate adaptation.

This presentation was given in a session titled "From Watershed to Coast," which profiled “No regrets” adaptation projects which increase climate change resilience and enhance existing conditions. What makes these projects truly adaptive and not just a repackaging of existing programs? This session looks at four no-regrets projects to address this question: (1) Water L.A. uses “urban acupuncture” to capture rainfall and infiltrate it into the aquifer. The project promotes retrofitting residential properties through education and permit streamlining. (2) Surfer‘s Point Managed Retreat (Ventura) relocated roads and parking lots threatened with wave erosion. Moving from a highly engineered solution to managed retreat was transformative. (3) The Marin Carbon Project utilizes a simple rangeland management protocol to increase carbon sequestration and drought resilience. The protocol, now under review for inclusion in carbon markets, consists of a single addition of composted organic matter to rangeland, yielding benefits over decades. (4) The Coastal Streamflow Stewardship Project (Statewide) utilizes changes in water rights to promote a shift from year-round stream withdrawals to winter withdrawal and storage, reducing impacts to salmonids and increasing drought resilience.

It was clear in this forum that local actions are where positive change is happening.  Ironies abound with government and industry responses.  Case in point: a state sponsored energy conservation PR campaign is using the grizzly bear as mascot...

Monday, August 25, 2014

C-Street, Ventura - more cobble berms

October 18, 2013: C-Street panorama before cobble berm
May 16, 2014: C-Street panorama with cobble berm

In February 2014, the City of Ventura constructed a "cobble berm" to protect the public amenities along the promenade and bike path in Ventura.  The panorama above illustrates the exposed riprap and concrete debris that, while providing some level of erosion protection, also presents a hazard to beachgoers and surfers.  According to the City staff report:

C-St before cobble nourishment - debris marked for removal
Feb 19, 2014: C-St cobble nourishment in progress

Over the last several years, severe erosion has become visible along the state beach at Surfers' Point and the Promenade.  The loss of sand and beach is threatening the palm trees, the bike path and other City public improvements along an 800-foot stretch of beach.  To restore and protect this shoreline and to prevent further erosion from occurring, it is recommended that the successful shore protection that was installed with the Surfers' Point Managed Retreat Project (2010) be extended easterly.  The complete nourishment of this stretch of beach requires the placement of an estimated 4,800 cubic years of small stone/cobble and 1,000 cubic yards of sand topping.  In addition, existing concrete and other debris that is encountered by this work would be removed.  The improvements would effectively widen the beach along the bike path in this area by 10-feet and would protect the bike path and other infrastructure from costly damage. 

March 26, 2014: C-St cobble berm
The placement of cobble and sand is not a permanent fix to control erosion.  It is anticipated that this project will arrest erosion along this stretch of beach for 
approximately 10 years and perhaps longer.  Periodic cobble beach nourishment is an economically viable option that is necessary for ongoing stability of the beach as well as 
protection of existing public improvements.

At the regular City Council meeting on September 16, 2013, Council authorized the use of $450,000 of line of Credit Repayment Funds to be use to fund this beach nourishment work.  Approximately 1/2 to 1/3 of this 800 foot shoreline will be addressed with available funding …  The apparent low bidder… submitted a bid in the amount of $319,970…

These aerial photos help illustrate the evolution of the shoreline following the construction of the cobble berm.

October 18, 2013: C-Street before cobble berm

February 25, 2014: C-Street shortly after construction of cobble berm

The image above taken shortly following the construction clearly shows the downcoast extent of the constructed cobble berm and the concrete debris directly downcoast.

May 16, 2014: C-Street 3 months after construction of cobble berm

Although the site did not experience many large winter swells in 2014, the beach quickly adjusted to the new cobble berm.  The image above clearly illustrates that by May much of the cobble had migrated downcoast, filling in on top of the concrete debris.

May 16, 2014: C-Street view looking toward the cove further downcoast of project site 

 The image above shows how the cobble has migrated around the Figueroa St drain and into the cove.  The cobble is evident in the photo below looking back upcoast from the drain on March 26, 2014 - note the relatively homogenous rocks filling in between the larger riprap from the constructed berm in the far background of the image.

March 26, 2014: View from Figueroa storm drain looking upcoast toward cobble berm. Cobbles are migrating through the riprap toward the viewer.
Aug 29, 2014: View from Figueroa storm drain looking upcoast toward C-St cobble berm. Note riprap now completely buried by cobble migrating downcoast 

We shall continue to monitor Ventura's cobble shoreline management, as there is a lot to learn. This cobble berm placed within the active littoral zone is a contrast to the Managed Shoreline Retreat project just up the point.  Questions remain as to how long this cobble remains in place, how fast it moves along the shoreline, and how rising tides and future large swells will affect this stretch of coast.  Stay tuned…