Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cycle of Insanity film trailer

The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water

The H20 project is coming to fruition, thanks to a dedicated crew of creative Surfrider volunteers and staff. We recognize that our current water management systems are broken, and this 'Cycle of Insanity' is the root cause of many of our coastal problems.

This new short film dives into controversial problems and solutions related to water management and serves as a practical outline for citizens curious about water issues.


The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water - TRAILER 1 from Surfrider Foundation San Diego C on Vimeo.



The film's public premiere will cooincide with World Water Day, Monday March 22, 2010. The San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will sponsor an event at The Loft on the campus of UC San Diego.

The project was spearheaded by the San Diego Chapter and co-sponsored by Surfrider Chapters throughout California, including the Ventura County Chapter.

If you don't see the film here (and are seeing this on FB), click on "view original post."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ojai Creek Restoration

The Ojai Valley Green Coalition team was out today, continuing the effort to clean up and restore the creek in Libbey Park, downtown Ojai. This tributary to San Antonio Creek has been impacted by upstream urbanization, and overgrowth of non-native plants.


In addition to the thick groundcover that has been hand-removed by volunteer events, six huge palm trees were recently removed. The creek already feels so much more open and unrestricted.

Today crews were weeding and planting - acorns and willow stakes were placed in appropriate locations, and it looked like everyone was having a great time!





To learn more and get involved see:http://www.ojaivalleygreencoalition.org

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Matilija Coalition Position on Permanent Upstream Sediment Management

February 16, 2010
To: Darryl Buxton, Project Manager, US Army Corps of Engineers
Jeff Pratt, Director, Ventura County Public Works Agency

RE: Matilija Coalition Position on US Army Corps of Engineers Proposal to Permanently Sequester Fine Sediments in Matilija Canyon

The Matilija Coalition is a non-governmental organization comprised of local, state, and national organizations committed to the restoration of the Ventura River watershed through the removal of Matilija Dam. The Matilija Coalition has actively participated in the multiagency effort to remove Matilija Dam for the purpose of restoring the Ventura River ecosystem since the project’s inception.

The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project has been delayed by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (COE) lack of funding and difficulties associated with the management of approximately two million cubic yards of fine sediment (approximately one third of the total sediment) that has accumulated behind the dam since its construction in 1948. The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study completed in 2004 outlines a restoration plan that includes dam and sediment removal based upon the ‘Alternative Plan 4b’ for ‘short-term sediment stabilization.’ This plan was developed through a multi-year, multi-agency planning process with consensus of all stakeholders including Ventura County, the COE, and the California Coastal Conservancyas project sponsor. The Feasibility Plan underwent the extensive review processes outlined below, and ultimately gained Congressional approval through the passage of the Water Resources and Development Act of 2007 (WRDA07.)

To date, the COE and County project managers have been unable to complete the final design of the Feasibility Plan that specified a slurry system to transport fine sediment downstream of water supply facilities to temporary storage areas near Baldwin Road. Attempts to alter the consensus Alternative Plan 4b to permanently store the fine sediment in a 70-acre landfill within a popular public recreation area understandably met with community resistance. Therefore, project managers are now considering another alternative which would permanently store the fine sediments upstream of the current dam site within Matilija Canyon.

At the January 14, 2010 Matilija Dam Design Oversight Group Meeting, the COE and County project managers asked stakeholders to consider and respond to the following question:

Can a constructable alternative be developed to permanently sequester the fine sediments upstream of the dam so as to reduce impact to Lake Casitas? If so, what would be the environmental impacts and cost?

The Matilija Coalition DOES NOT support the proposal to permanently store 2.1 million cubic yards of fine sediments in the Upstream Storage Areas (USA 1 and 2.)

The Matilija Coalition believes that the proposal to permanently sequester the fine sediments upstream of the dam in the manner described undermines the basic objectives of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project. Moreover, this will likely result in further delays to the project, which is already several years behind schedule. The upstream storage of fine sediments described by the COE will result in a permanent landfill and associated hardscape flood-control facilities within the high-energy floodplain of Matilija Creek: this proposal represents a significant departure from the consensus Alternative Plan 4b previously incorporated in the Feasibility Study and NEPA/CEQA environmental review, and raises significant concerns, including the environmental, procedural, and regulatory issues outlined below.

Issues raised by the Army Corps of Engineers proposal to permanently store approximately 2.1 million cubic yards of fine sediments within the Matilija Reservoir site:

1. The proposal is not fully consistent with the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project objectives:
  • Improve Aquatic And Terrestrial Habitat Along Matilija Creek And Ventura River
  • Restore Fish Passage to Benefit the Endangered Southern Steelhead
  • Restore Natural Processes To Support Beach Sand Replenishment
  • Enhance Recreational Opportunities
2. Departure from the Feasibility Study plan:

The proposal is inconsistent with the project description approved in the 2004 Feasibility Study. This plan underwent an extensive review processes including:
  • Stakeholder Consensus on Alternative Plan 4b for temporary stabilization of coarse sediment in Matilija Canyon and temporary storage of fine sediments near Baldwin Road (2003)
  • Habitat evaluation (HEP) and associated federal cost-benefit analysis (2004)
  • Environmental review (NEPA/CEQA) (2004)
  • US Army Chief of Engineers Report (2004)
  • USFWS Coordination Act Report (2004) and USFWS Biological Opinion (2005)
  • NOAA Fisheries Biological Opinion (2007)
  • Congressional authorization (Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) 2007)
  • Agreement for Transfer of Matilija Conduit and Continued Matilija Dam Operations, CMWD and VCWPD (2009)

3. Hazard and Liability:

Construction of flood protection structures in the active floodplain raises the potential for future catastrophic failure and the need for ongoing maintenance. Specific concerns include:
  • Potential impacts to downstream infrastructure and water supply facilities.
  • Safety of downstream residents.
  • Need for ever-increasing flood-control armoring in order to maintain the flood protection structures in place.
  • Cost to the VCWPD Zone 1 taxpayer to maintain the new flood protection structures in perpetuity.

4. Negative impact to ecosystem function:

The Federal interest in Matilija Dam is based upon a cost-benefit analysis that was determined in 2004 through a modified Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP.) Many of the assumptions in the HEP analysis may be invalidated with the Upstream Storage Area proposal:
  • The location and extent of the USA fine sediment storage sites will reduce the active floodplain by raising the elevation of the sites above the level of flood flows, and by permanently armoring both banks of the channel in this reach.
  • The permanent fill of the USA fine sediment sites will reduce the width of the active channel; this would alter the hydrology and hydraulics and increase the need for additional flood-control armoring hardening, both in the initial design of the pilot channel and following future high flow events.
  • Channelization of the perennial stream section in the Matilija Reservoir area will reduce steelhead spawning and rearing habitat, reduce vegetative cover, and potentially reduce fish passage.
  • The location and extent of the USA fine sediment storage sites will permanently bury riparian habitat and tributaries and springs, as well as the heritage oak grove identified in red with ‘Protect in Place’ in the 2004 Feasibility Plan.
  • The USA fine sediment storage sites will reduce the area used in the HEP analysis to calculate the financial cost-benefit analysis.
  • Reliance on permanent flood control structures will require ongoing maintenance, including maintenance of access roads, fences, and other infrastructure associated with flood control facilities. The impacts to habitat and the cost of 50-years of operations and maintenance were not considered in the cost-benefit analysis in the 2004 Feasibility Study.
Summary
The area upstream of Matilija Dam is the primary restoration site in the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, and the ultimate success of the project hinges on how this reach of Matilija Creek is restored and managed. In general, the proposed upstream USA storage sites do not reflect the considerations that led to the conceptual design for upstream sediment management described in the 2004 Feasibility Report. The Feasibility Plan specifies temporary sediment storage areas that were carefully selected to minimize impacts to the existing habitat and provide for the restoration of a naturally meandering stream channel upstream of the current dam site capable of shifting its course in response to flow and sediment transport. This initially restored channel was intended to provide a starting point to provide for the natural evolution of the river within Matilija canyon following dam removal. Constricting this channel between permanent flood control structures protecting the permanent USA storage sites and Matilija Road in this reach of Matilija Creek will compromise this process, which is key to the ecosystem restoration objectives. The proposal is also inconsistent with re-establishing recreational opportunities within the restored Matilija Reservoir site.

The Matilija Coalition remains committed to the removal of Matilija Dam in the most cost effective manner that will attain the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration objectives. We support analysis of restoration alternatives that are consistent with the consensus plan outlined in the 2004 Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. We also encourage COE and County project managers to re-engage the scientific and technical expertise that initially contributed to the planning process. Experts in the fields of river and habitat restoration, fluvial processes, and fisheries restoration, as well as the resource agencies responsible for the outcome of this project, should all be active participants in this process.

We look forward to moving this project forward in a positive manner toward an outcome that satisfies the concerns of all stakeholders and is consistent with the consensus plan approved in the 2004 Feasibility Study.

signed by representatives from the following organizations:

Matilija Coalition
Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter
Environmental Coalition of Ventura County
California Trout
American Rivers
Friends of the River
Patagonia, Inc.
Environmental Defense Center
Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper


Download complete letter here: MC upstreamdisposal_letter_Feb2010.pdf

Friday, February 12, 2010

Matilija Dam in the news




In today's Ojai Valley News:

Silt Wars: Casitas Municipal Water District’s rejection of disposal plan threatens dam’s removal
The Casitas Municipal Water District refused Wednesday to endorse in concept disposal of 2.1 million cubic yards of silt behind obsolete Matilija Dam to a storage area above the dam, an alternative favored by county and federal agencies.

This news follows last week's story in the VCStar:

Disagreement Could Delay Tearing Down Matilija
“The whole point was restoration of the river, which really requires that the natural processes are restored,” said Paul Jenkin, chairman of the Matilija Coalition. “I don’t think this plan is in keeping with that original plan. It is not clear to me what it is going to take to get the project back on track.”


Background:

The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project has been delayed by lack of funding from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and difficulties associated with the management of approximately two million cubic yards of fine sediment (approximately one third of the total sediment) that has accumulated behind the dam since its construction in 1948.

The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study completed in 2004 outlines a restoration plan that includes dam and sediment removal based upon the 'Alternative Plan 4b' for 'short-term sediment stabilization.' This plan was developed through a multi-year, multi-agency planning process with consensus of all stakeholders including Ventura County, the COE, and project sponsors. The Feasibility Plan underwent extensive review processes, and ultimately gained Congressional approval through the passage of the Water Resources and Development Act of 2007 (WRDA07.)

To date, the COE and County project managers have been unable to complete the final design of the Feasibility Plan that specified a slurry system to transport fine sediment downstream of water supply facilities to temporary storage areas near Baldwin Road.

Attempts to alter the consensus Alternative Plan 4b to permanently store the fine sediment in a 70-acre landfill within a popular public recreation area understandably met with community resistance.

Therefore, project managers are now considering the potential for permanently storing the fine sediments upstream of the current dam site within Matilija Canyon.

Amgen presentation

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Amgen corporation invited me to participate in a "Green Bag Lunch Seminar" this week. We showed the Surfrider video From Sea to Summit as part of a informational seminar on stormwater runoff. I gave a quick overview of what the Surfrider Foundation is doing in Ventura County, and how residents can get involved.

A representative from the City of Thousand Oaks gave an overview of local water quality issues, and Amgen staff provided an overview of the steps the corporation has taken to manage stormwater on their campus.

Afterward, I took a quick tour and saw a few of their stormwater projects, well integrated into their university-like campus.



Dear Paul,

On behalf of Amgen Thousand Oaks, I would like to extend a sin
cere thank you for speaking at our green bag lunch & learn event. The green bag event would not have been such a great success without someone from the Surfrider Foundation presenting at the event. You did an excellent job explaining how your organization is working to help protect our watershed through conservation, activism, education and research.

The educational video
"From Sea to Summit: A Journey through the Watershed" was educational gave good overview on the small lifestyle changes that we can make as individuals to support a healthy environment. We had approximately 90 people attend the event (over 40 on line and about 50 people in the room). I hope you found your participation as a useful opportunity to interact with others that truly care about an environment. Again, I appreciate the time and energy you have devoted to Amgen’s green bag lunch & learn series.

Best Regards,


Amgen Environmental Health & Safety Coordinator

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Watershed U - Learning Opportunity



Coming this Spring:

WHEN: Every Thursday afternoon April 22-May 27, 2010, at 4-7pm

WHAT: Watershed U. - Ventura River is a course for those who live, work, or spend time in the Ventura River watershed and are interested in understanding how the river works for you, and how you can help provide stewardship.

Join us at Patagonia headquarters in Ventura as we explore the background information necessary for watershed management; history, geology, water supply, land use, agriculture, floodplain management, water quality, ecology, and conservation.

Sign up now to reserve your spot; visit Watershed U - Ventura River to register.


Continuing education credits will be available for K-12 teachers, water resource professionals, and other stakeholders. College credit will likely be available for an additional fee.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recreational Rivers



Saturday Feb 6, 2010:
Santa Clara River Kayak Run

I got a call Saturday morning. "Ventura River's only 70 cfs at Foster Park. But it looks like the Santa Clara may be do-able."

We are so fortunate to have two rivers in Ventura...

The rain had just started to come down in full force again. "I'm in. Let's do it!"



Most folks don't consider the recreational possibilities on these rivers in Southern California. After all, they're dry most of the time... Until they flood, and that's often not a safe option. But this year's series of storms has raised base flows so that the couple of inches of rain that fell on Friday made for potentially steady flows in the rivers.

The Ventura River had about 170cfs (cubic feet per second) in Matilija Creek, which when added to the 70 cfs in the North Fork made for over 200 cfs in the upper Ventura River. Enough to paddle a kayak in that reach of the river. The problem was that Casitas Water District was diverting the bulk of the flow into Lake Casitas at the Robles Diversion. So flows downstream of the diversion dam were still far from boat-able.








That's how four of us ended up driving out to Santa Paula with a carload of kayaks on Saturday afternoon. We put in at a steep streambank, and paddled into the fast-flowing chocolate brown river. The river quickly moved us downstream, with multiple opportunities for small surfing waves and class 2 rapids. Despite the rain and drizzle, we were having a blast!











Several miles downstream we approached the Vern-Freeman Diversion Dam. An operator on the intake works starting waving frantically at us as we approached, pointing us to the opposite bank. We knew the dam would mean a portage, and it turned out to be fairly straightforward once we bushwhacked through the willows.







After dragging our boats along the dam and lowering them down, we put back in below the man-made cascade. Paddling along the face of the dam and over to the fish intake, it was obvious why there is a need for re-design for fish passage around this facility. A fish would have a hard time detecting the fish intake from the bigger flows coming over the dam, and even then a drain pipe was delivering a muddy soup right into the entrance pool. A recent CalTrout legal settlement has initiated a design process that will hopefully remedy this problem. After all, steelhead must make it past this obstacle in order to reach the endless habitat in the Sespe Wilderness upstream.












Downstream of the diversion, things started to get a bit more urban. We passed below several large freeway bridges, wondering if anyone was noticing the small flotilla headed down the river. The bridges produced a few nice holes to play in before heading downstream again.










Down in the lower Santa Clara, just a couple of miles up from the estuary, is where things got a bit interesting. Here we almost got lost in the numerous small channels flowing through the willows. It took a bit of creative bushwhacking to find our way out to open water again. A short way downstream, we flushed out flocks of duck that became silhouetted against the sunset sky. It almost felt as if we were in another part of the state.







Tired from paddling all afternoon, and with daylight dwindling fast, I was glad to see the Harbor Blvd bridge ahead. We made the 14 miles down to the estuary from Santa Paula in about 3 hours.












We are looking forward to the next rains in the hopes that we will be able to paddle down the Ventura River. Let us know if you want to come along!




More on recreational rivers here:

http://brt-insights.blogspot.com/2009/02/santa-clara-river-overview-california.html

Friday, February 5, 2010

Urban Runoff in the News

Vince Kinsch, chairman of the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation was interviewed today at the flooded Sanjon Rd.

Sanjon Rd is an iconic example of the urban runoff problem. Our chapter has been advocating for a wetland restoration and urban watershed program as a demonstration of Solving the Urban Runoff Problem.

In the news today on KCAL Channel 9




link to this blog post and video here: http://www.venturariver.org/2010/02/urban-runoff-in-news.html


Related news: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/24/storm-drains-push-debris-pollutants-into-the/

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beach restoration moving forward

Feb 1, 2010 - Surfers' Point Working Group Meeting

The working group met for an update on plans to break ground later this year. Funding is now available to construct the $3M first phase of the project that will relocate the bike path and parking lot near the rivermouth. Construction will begin after Labor Day 2010.

The city engineer has been able to secure a source for the 26,000 tons of cobble and 18,000 tons of sand that will be used to enhance and restore the beach. This huge mass of river rock from nearby Santa Paula Creek will be used to construct a 'cobble berm' on the back-beach, to be buried underneath reconstructed sand dunes.



This design will provide protection from future erosion with a natural alternative to the concrete seawalls that makes Ventura County famous. (2/3 of our coast has been hardened with concrete or rock structures.)



more here: http://surferspoint.org/

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

VHC Land Donation

Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Receives Third Land Donation

This donation builds on 2 other donations near Foster Park that will help preserve the floodplain in the long-term vision to create a 'River Parkway.' Protecting the floodplain from future development benefits water quality, habitat and public access.

Press release Ventura, CA (January 25, 2010). The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is the recipient of a third donation of land to add to its conservation holdings. The gift came from Ventura County residents Donald Moore and Gary Moore.

The parcel, consisting of approximately ½ acre, is adjacent to the two parcels donated to the Conservancy in 2009 by the Waldo Trust. The Moore and Waldo properties are located between the Ventura River and the Ventura River Trail to the south of Foster Park.


Donald Moore, who lives in Ojai, and his younger brother, Gary Moore, who lives in Ventura, donated the scenic riverside property that they inherited from their parents, Leslie Moore and Neva Moore. The family chose to give the acreage to the local land trust to ensure that it would protected as open space, said Donald Moore. Gary Moore added that he was pleased to give the lush riparian area to the Conservancy because “it should be protected from development.”

Like the Waldo Trust parcels, the Moore property is a remnant of a larger lot that once fronted Ventura Avenue, and was created from the old Rancho Santa Ana subdivision. As children, the brothers recall living in a house on land that is now part of the Ojai Freeway (State Route 33). They have fond memories of playing in and around the Ventura River. “It was a vibrant neighborhood” says Gary Moore. “It was a great place for a kid to grow up. I spent most of my early childhood in the river bottom and climbing the nearby hill. I rolled through so much poison oak that I basically became immune to it. I also remember that there were no leash laws back then and everyone seemed to have a dog running around. It truly was a special place.”

When the state built the Freeway in the 1960s, large portions of the Moore, Waldo, and neighboring properties were taken through eminent domain, leaving a string of remnant parcels along the riverside west of the State right of way. The remnant parcel donated by the Moore family had remained in the Moore family’s ownership since that time.

The Moores were very pleased to have found an organization that will hold and care for their family’s property. “We know the property is in good hands now, and that is comforting to us” says Gary Moore. “I encourage other owners of Ventura River land and hillside land to donate to the Conservancy. They are our local protectors of open space land, so we all should support their mission.”

In the news: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jan/29/resorting-the-river-parcel-by-parcel/

Monday, February 1, 2010

Coastal flooding - Sanjon

Recent high tides and large surf have built up the berm along the beach in Ventura. What was a sandy beach is now a cobble berm... cobble originating from the Ventura River.


Wave overtopping of this berm has filled the Sanjon estuary, backing up all the way onto the street. The road has been closed since the weekend.

Several years ago, State Parks ended the practice of artificially breaching the lagoon in order to allow natural restoration of the area. This has been successful in allowing the wetland to regenerate, and often forms a longer meandering flow path before discharging to the ocean.

As we have documented in "Solving the Urban Runoff Problem," restoring this wetland would help solve water quality problems as well as the ongoing flooding of lower Sanjon road.