Tuesday, September 22, 2009

McGrath Lake cleanup?

Ever wonder why the water seems so nasty along the Oxnard beachbreaks?

An article in the Ventura County Star states "Landowners fear cost of cleaning up McGrath Lake."

...the state wants to clean the lake of DDT, PCBs and other pollutants. ...The proposed cleanup methods range from capping the shallow lake with dirt, which would cost $1.4 million, to dredging it of the polluted sediment, which could cost nearly $12 million."

This is potentially good news for those who surf the Oxnard beach breaks, as McGrath Lake is one of the toxic legacies that directly impact the surf zone. Agricultural runoff from the strawberry fields across the street are pumped into the 'lake,' where agritoxins are blended and overflow onto the beach. Longshore currents carry these toxins along the beach, usually downcoast except in south swells. The combination of McGrath Lake with Ventura wastewater and discharges from the Mandalay power plant create typically turbid (i.e. brown) water that is kept close to shore by breaking waves.

View Ventura River in a larger map

Although landowners are concerned that this order will be unaffordable, it is clear that the time has come to solve this problem. A public hearing is scheduled for October 1, at the City of Simi Valley Council Chambers, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road.

Consideration of proposed Basin Plan Amendment to incorporate a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for PCBs, Pesticides and Sediment Toxicity in McGrath Lake. (Comment submittal deadline was September 3, 2009) [Elisha Wakefield, (213) 576-6763]

More info: LA Regional Water Quality Control Board


In a revised notice released on September 24, 2009;
The Regional Board recognizes that cooperative parties will need to secure funding
from outside sources for in-lake sediment remediation and monitoring in order to
successfully implement the TMDL. The Regional Board supports the use of State
Board Cleanup and Abatement Account Funds to implement the TMDL and hereby
directs staff to begin working with cooperative parties to apply for Cleanup and
Abatement Account Funding.

McGrath Lake is a small, back dune lake located in coastal Ventura County.
Situated at the southern end of McGrath State Beach Park, the lake is south of
the McGrath State Beach Campground and west of Harbor Blvd. Much of the
adjacent area to the east is utilized for agricultural operations, such as
strawberries, celery and cut flowers. The dominant land use in the McGrath
watershed is agriculture, accounting for approximately 78% of the total land use.
McGrath Lake is located within the McGrath Lake sub-watershed, which is
approximately 1,700 acres and part of the larger Santa Clara River watershed.
Prior to agricultural development within the region, the lake and surrounding area
was part of the extensive wetland and floodplain complex of the Santa Clara
River Delta. Tile drains installed in the region allowed for extensive agricultural
operations and have greatly reduced the flooded soils and resulting wetlands. In
1958, Harbor Boulevard was built east of the park and lake, further disrupting the
hydrological inputs to McGrath Lake. The lake is a receiving water for tile drain
discharge, irrigation runoff, and stormwater from agricultural operations in the
sub-watershed. An artificial discharge of lake water to McGrath State Beach
occurs through the use of pumps to keep flooding of the fields east of Harbor
Blvd to a minimum.