Thursday, May 21, 2009

BREEZE interview

I sat down a couple of weeks ago with Tim Pompey, writer for the local paper, the BREEZE:

Preserving Ventura Beaches: An Interview with Paul Jenkin

by Tim Pompey

He talks quietly, but, when it comes to ocean and beach preservation, Paul Jenkin knows how to get things done. Active with the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Paul now serves full-time as the Ventura Campaign Coordinator. You can see him occasionally at City Council meetings reminding the City about coastline preservation. He sat down to update me on some of Surfrider’s recent work.

T: How long have you worked with Surfrider?

P: About fifteen years I started as a volunteer and eventually figured out how I could stay on and work full-time.

T: What are some of the things Surfrider has accomplished during this time?

P: Well, we’re finally ready to go, but need to pull together enough funding to help reconstruct Surfer’s Point. It’s been a long haul on that project. The other thing we’ve been involved with is the eventual removal of Matilija Dam. There’s tons of sediment buildup behind the dam, enough that, in heavy rains, the water just runs right over the top. Once it’s removed, it will open up lots of habitat and allow sediment to naturally flow and replenish the Ventura River Delta.

T: Anything immediate on the horizon?

P: Yeah, we’ve produced a film called “Watershed Revolution”. It deals with some of our more pressing issues re: water and water management. There’s going to be a premiere public showing June 20 at the Elks Lodge and June 24 in Ojai at the Chaparral Auditorium.

T: What do you see as most pressing today in terms of Ventura water management?

P: Well, the question of urban runoff is really affecting Ventura beaches, particularly down along Sanjon and Harbor. For the most part, Ventura has cut off its natural water flow and channeled everything out through the Sanjon pipeline. We’ve put together a plan that helps Ventura solve some of its water management issues. (See

T: What’s basic to this plan?

P: Restoring the natural runoff that we’ve siphoned into the storm channel. Rather than sending all runoff toward the beach, we’d like to create some demonstration projects where water gets channeled higher up into places where it can naturally be absorbed back into the earth. For instance, Ventura has a dozen or so natural creeks that have all been run underground by the City. We could practice what’s called “daylighting”, that is, disconnecting those creeks from storm drains and letting them reabsorb naturally back into the soil. An example of this would be to create ocean friendly gardens, i.e., using that water to naturally replenish the City’s landscaping.

T: What’s the key to helping the City reach their goal of being a “model for other communities of environmental responsibility? (Quote from the City of Ventura’s General Plan in 2005)

P: We need to create a “green” infrastructure. Right now City departments have been isolated from each other and are simply doing their own thing. A coordinated plan by these departments would help them put together a more integrated plan where everyone is on the same page. That’s what Surfrider is trying to encourage. What we’d like to do now is secure funding for smaller demonstration projects. Start small and chip away at this problem until lots of little things start to add up.

T: Do you foresee this actually happening?

P: We’ve managed to get the city to address it in their capital improvement plan. What we’re working toward now are grant monies to get these projects going.

T: When do they begin work on Surfer’s Point?

P: Soon. We’re just waiting for funding so that we can begin as soon as this fall.