Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ojai Quarry update

Channelkeeper secured long-term habitat and water quality protections for North Fork Matilija Creek last month, when the Ventura County Planning Division adopted new conditions for the continued operation of the Ojai Quarry. Erosion and rock slides from the steep slopes at the Ojai Quarry have historically impacted critical habitat for endangered steelhead trout in the creek. In 2013, Channelkeeper and the Environmental Defense Center filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that inadequate stormwater management practices at the quarry were violating requirements of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. We reached a settlement in 2014, and the quarry agreed to implement a suite of new features and practices to prevent landslides and minimize erosion and impacts to water quality.

Channelkeeper coordinated extensively with the Ventura County Planning Division to ensure that these measures were incorporated into the quarry's recently updated Conditional Use Permit, so the County itself will now require these measures to protect habitat and water quality for the duration of the quarry's new 30-year permit. Channelkeeper's ongoing monitoring indicates that the new measures are working to protect the creek, and we will continue to monitor their implementation and effectiveness moving forward.


Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper - Ojai Quarry

On this blog:

 Ojai Quarry

more #ResurrectTheRiver

Read more to learn more about Channelkeeper’s efforts to protect the Ventura River from over-pumping, and sign the petition to show your support:  RESTORING FLOWS IN THE RIVER

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Matilija Dam State Prop 1 grant

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it will award $3.3 million to the Matilija Dam project.

The grant was part of $40 million in Proposition 1 funds awarded for "water quality, river and watershed protection, and restoration projects for vital waterways throughout California."  Proposition 1 was passed by California voters in 2014.

This grant will be administered by the Ventura County Watershed Protection District to complete engineering design and environmental permitting for the dam removal project.  A three-year timeframe will result in a "shovel ready" project in 2019.

The successful Prop 1 grant proposal was compiled by county staff with support from the Matilija Coalition, California Trout, and the Ventura River Watershed coordinator, along with other agency support.

These efforts are coordinated by the Matilija Dam Funding Committee, which was formed earlier this year following the consensus agreement on the dam removal project.

In the news:

CDFW Awards $40 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration and Protection Projects, CDFW news

County gets $3 million for Matiljia Dam removal, VCStar 12-26-2016

Grant approved in effort to remove Matilija Dam, VC Reporter 12-28-2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hewlett Foundation support for Matilija Dam Removal

This week the Hewlett Foundation announced a $50 million fund for river restoration in the west.
Hewlett Foundation’s initial pledge of $175,000 for Matilija Dam will support local groups working toward the dam's removal. This includes grants to the Surfrider Foundation, California Trout, and other organizations to provide technical support and community outreach on the project.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation marked the organization’s 50th anniversary by donating $50 million to establish the Open Rivers Fund, the largest fund dedicated to supporting local community efforts to remove obsolete dams and restore rivers across the western United States. Resources Legacy Fund, a nonprofit that has significant experience in developing and implementing complex conservation programs and projects, will identify potential dam removal projects -- based on the local need, widespread community support and collaboration, and opportunity for multiple community and environmental benefits – and, over the next ten years, support the work of local groups and agencies in removing the dams.  The Open Rivers Fund launches with three initial projects, including the largest dam removal project in California, the Matilija Dam.

According to the Ventura County Star:
As organizers continue to work on the plan, including defining recreational opportunities along the Ventura River Parkway, the recognition by Open Rivers will help convince government agencies and donors that the Matilija Dam demolition project is viable and important to the community, said Peter Sheydayi, interim direct of the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, which owns the dam.
“They (Open Rivers Fund) bring a lot of credibility to our efforts,” he said Monday. “There’s a general feeling of momentum moving now that we haven’t seen before.”

More info:

In the news:

A new $50 million fund will help communities remove “deadbeat dams,” starting in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Editorial: Matilija Dam removal dream is alive and well, VCStar

"It would be easy to play the pessimist on this never-ending project, especially considering its $80 million price tag and a president-elect who isn’t exactly putting environmental restoration at the top of his to-do list. But you’ve got to give some serious credit to the Matilija Coalition, founder Paul Jenkin and all the others involved for their persistence and fortitude. At this point, Ventura County is 20 years deep into this project, and we’re glad its champions are sticking with it."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Drought and water supply

As the unprecedented drought continues, local water agencies are examining potential "new" water sources in the event that our "backup," Lake Casitas,  runs dry.  An April article in the Ventura County Star warned that without rain Lake Casitas could be empty in four (4) years.  The lake level is
continuing to decline, now at 35.5%, a drop of 2.1% since September.  The Ventura River Watershed has remained independent of imported water, but the threat of megadrought has re-opened the discussion.

On Thursday, September 22, 2016 the Casitas Water District sponsored a Regional Drought Summit, (the Presentations are available here, or on YouTube here)  The well attended event was held at the Oak View Resource Center and included a panel of speakers with representatives from City of Ventura, Golden State, Ventura River, Meiners Oaks, and Senior Canyon Municipal Water District.   Ventura River Watershed coordinator Zoe Carlson  provided a short overview on the drought's effect on the watershed.

On November 9th, the Casitas water board received a presentation on a Water Security Project Analysis.  The report and the associated PowerPoint presentation are now available here.

Casitas has been looking at ways to mitigate the effects of the drought on our water supply. The report analyses the technical and financial feasibility of ‘new’ water supply projects. The reports are preliminary, but are a great way to give the public a glimpse of the research Casitas is involved in to secure your water.

This report concludes that the best bet may be a horizontal bore into water-bearing bedrock in the mountains above the lake.  The so-called  "Matilija HoBos" would tap into the Matilija sandstone geologic formation potentially accessing over 29,000 acre feet of water.

In the meantime, the City of Ventura is also investigating their options.  A hookup to the State Water Project  would be possible in cooperation with other water agencies, including Casitas.  And at the recent Santa Clara Estuary meeting they announced that the City will be initiating CEQA environmental review for recycling wastewater through Direct Potable Reuse based upon their successful demonstration project.

And now to complete the discussion, Supervisor Steve Bennett has called for a December 1, 2016
forum on ocean desalination.  

If all this sounds familiar, it is.  The debate on state water vs ocean desalination ended when the last drought came to an end in 1994. 

Study's Good News Clouds Water Debate: Ventura, Told that its sources are adequate for 16 years, city may delay plans for either a desalinaton plant or pipeline

In the news:

Desalination in Ventura County called solution for future

More information:

On the Brink: Southern California faces dire, drier future

Casitas Lake Level

Regional Drought Summit 2016 Presentations

Regional Drought Summit 2016 Presentations on YouTube

Santa Clara River Estuary Special Studies

 Ventura Water Pure (wastewater recycling)

More on this blog:

Water Supply



Monday, November 14, 2016

Aloha Beach Festival

Many thanks to Chip and Kelly Bell for their generous donation of $10,000 raised by the annual Aloha Beach Festival!

This year, in light of recent progress with the dam removal project, the Bell's designated the Matilija Coalition as their beneficiary of this annual event.

Thanks Chipper Bro!

more info:

Aloha Beach Festival

Dam scissors stickers

Matilija Dam made headline news in 2011 when a giant pair of scissors appeared overnight.  The image is now becoming a symbol of dam removal.

The Matilija Coalition just designed and printed a sticker building on this theme.  More of these will be available soon, so stop by the Patagonia retail stores to get yours!

All good grass-roots campaigns begin with a bumper sticker.  Surfrider printed these in 1995 to spread the word on the sand trap 16 miles up the Ventura River:

On this blog:

Matilija Dam in the news