Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ojai votes for local control of water

On August 27, Ojai residents scored a resounding victory in the bid to regain local control of the city's water supply.  A majority of 87% of Ojai voters supported the takeover from Golden State Water, a for-profit corporation   accused of profiteering.  Ojai FLOW developed a strategy that included eminent domain takeover of the water company supported by a local bond measure.  Water management will be taken over by the Casitas Municipal Water Company which currently serves the majority of the Ojai Valley and part of Ventura and operates under the direction of a locally elected board.

On this Blog: 

 Judge postpones ruling on Ojai water case 

The hearing before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Mark Borrell was postponed after he ruled that Golden State Water Company had not given adequate notice of its intent to challenge the Casitas Municipal Water District's takeover.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eye on the Environment - Ocean Friendly Gardens & KYH2O

Eye on the Environment - How to Make Your Gardens Ocean Friendly

Published in the VC Star August 11, 2013

How would you like a big group of surfers to help you give CPR to your garden? The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation can help you create an Ocean Friendly Garden by applying the principles of CPR, which stands for Conservation Permeability and Retention.

Today is the last day of the Ventura County Fair, where the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has an actual Ocean Friendly Garden on display in the Floriculture Pavilion. If you miss it today, you still have many more opportunities to learn these principles. These landscapes merit the Surfrider-trademarked term “Ocean Friendly Garden” because they conserve water, native habitat and energy with local and edible plants; create permeable soil and hard surfaces to absorb and filter polluted runoff; and retain rainwater to irrigate plants, replenish creeks and groundwater, and prevent flooding downstream.

Surfrider volunteers recently re-landscaped a yard in Ventura’s midtown area to make it an Ocean Friendly Garden. They removed the lawn, then “sheet mulched” (smothered) the remaining roots. Rainwater from the roof was redirected into dry streambeds planted with climate appropriate plants plus mulch to slow, spread and sink the rainwater.

The project also created cuts in the curbs of the parkway (area between street and sidewalk) to absorb street runoff. The City has created a no-cost curb-cutting permit that makes it possible to re-do our planted parkways to capture the majority of street runoff for a fraction of the cost of a more engineered solution.

OFG is part of Surfrider’s larger program to “Know Your H2O,” which is described in our video titled “Cycle of Insanity.” While new development must apply CPR-type requirements, existing developments do not. It seems insane to channel all rainfall into storm drains that deliver polluted runoff directly to our rivers and coasts, wasting water that could be directed into our over-pumped aquifers and waterways. It also seems insane to discharge millions of gallons of highly treated wastewater (from sinks, showers, washing machines and toilets) into the ocean every day. From the dry Ventura River to the flooded McGrath State Beach Park, to the east county cities that import water from northern California, Ventura County has many signs that our management of water can be improved.

For example, while about half the water consumed within the city of Ventura is used on landscapes, the rest is used just once in our homes before we send it to the ‘wastewater’ treatment plant.  There it is treated and pumped into the Santa Clara River estuary, contributing to the flooding problem at McGrath State Beach.  One solution may be recycling this wastewater, which could not only enhance water supply but also reduce impacts on our drying rivers.  Ventura and other facilities in the County, such as the Moorpark Wastewater Treatment Plant, already sell recycled water for use on golf courses.  In Orange County reclaimed water is pumped into the ground to counteract the saltwater intrusion that is also a problem in our aquifers. And as technologies advance, direct potable reuse (for drinking) will become the norm.

Although individual citizens have little control over infrastructure, the solution begins at home.  This is why Surfrider's “Ocean Friendly Gardens” program is catching on throughout the region. Surfrider, City staff and trained professionals have helped many local homeowners improve their gardens as well as assisted with several municipal projects in the City of Ventura.

Surfrider volunteers may not be able to help everyone. So keep your eye on the environment at free classes on Ocean Friendly Gardens, sponsored by the City of Ventura and Aqua-Flo irrigation supply store, starting in September. Check out Surfrider events and see if your local chapter is able to assist you. Also, look at the gardens on the Ocean Friendly Garden map, and start evaluating your garden and making changes – or hire a professional who applies CPR.

On the web:
Calendar -
Video -
Map –
Chapter -
City -

Also published in the VCReporter:

Paul Jenkin is the Surfrider Foundation’sVentura Campaign Coordinator, and
Paul Herzog is the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Coordinator

Thursday, August 1, 2013

OFG at Ventura County Fair

The Ventura Chapter's Ocean Friendly Gardens crew's hard work paid off again!

Their display at the Ventura County Fair is an award winner!

The Chapter's 'OFG' committee saw a display at the annual fair's 'Home and Gardens' section as a way to provide an example, and not just handouts, of the simplicity, beauty and savings of Ocean Friendly Gardens.  The design on the exterior of one of the Fairgrounds buildings utilized the existing downspout: it looks like it was meant to be there!

The Fair started on Wednesday, and chapter volunteers will be on site during the next two weekends to explain Ocean Friendly Gardens to the thousands of visitors that will pass by the exhibit. During the week, there's a box in which ofg brochures are available for the taking, and there's a flipbook describing the display's elements.

The best part - the display utilized re-purposed or reclaimed materials so that the entire project cost only $8!

Santa Clara estuary 'fix'

The County of Ventura obtained permits to install a system to execute controlled draining of the Santa Clara River Estuary.  This is a temporary 'fix' to the problems caused by the accumulation of wastewater in this dry year when the rivermouth did not breach.  McGrath State Beach, which was to re-opened this year following an outpouring of public support, has been closed all summer due to a flooded campground.

A fire hose was installed after the discharge pipe installed in the surf zone was damaged

Pumping to lower water levels in the estuary prompted posting
 of a water quality advisory at the popular Santa Clara rivermouth surf break

the long view - the fire hose discharge and a plume of brown water
 in the ocean are visible from the Ventura hillsides (photo credit KR)
Water level has dropped about 5 inches after the first week of pumping at the Santa Clara estuary - nets are placed to prevent entrainment of the endangered tidewater goby and other fish

Update: Pumping ceased the week of Oct 7.  The water level in the estuary looked like this:

More info:

On this blog:  wastewater

In the News:

Crews prepare pumping system to drain McGrath campgrounds
Draining of McGrath beach campground to begin Monday
McGrath State Beach
Ventura water rates increase

Seawall reconstruction

CalTrans is currently working to rebuild the seawall near Solimar Beach along old PCH / Hwy 101 north of Ventura.  This is a popular beach during the summer, and although beach access is still possible from either end it's looking pretty ugly.  It appears that the riprap has been moved away from the toe of the seawall and placed in the surf zone to  protect the project area from wave action.  All of these rocks should be removed upon project completion.

According to the Coastal Commission staff report:


Demolish approximately1,800 linear ft. of existing seawall and replace with a new seawall of the same length and height in a further landward location; remove approximately 1,800 linear ft., 12 ft. wide existing rock revetment located immediately seaward of the existing seawall to be demolished; construct a new public access stairway and a new public access ramp to the beach; install three new public access signs and two new ADA- compliant parking spaces and signs; and repair and pave existing adjacent road shoulder and bicycle lane areas. 

As originally proposed project did not include the removal of any portions of the existing 1,800 linear ft. long rock revetment located seaward of the existing seawall. Moreover, the project also only included removal of the top 10 ft. of the existing seawall, leaving the lower portion visible above the typical elevation of beach sand. Through collaboration between Commission staff and the applicant, the proposed project has been modified to now include removal of the existing 1,800 linear ft. seawall down to two feet below the lowest expected beach sand profile and complete removal of the approximately 1,800 linear ft., 12 ft. wide existing rock revetment, thereby reducing potential visual impacts and increasing the area of useable beach. Thus, as now proposed to demolish all visible portions of the existing approximately 3 ft. wide seawall, reconstruct the new seawall in a further landward location, and remove all portions of the existing approximately 12 ft. wide rock revetment on site; this project will serve to reduce the footprint of shoreline armoring on site by approximately 15 ft. and will increase the area of sandy beach currently available for use by the public while continuing to ensure the geologic and engineering stability of Pacific Coast Highway. Moreover, the project has been designed to incorporate additional public access and recreational improvements including construction of a new public access stairway and a separate public access ramp to the sandy beach from the road shoulder parking area on site.

The existing seawall was originally constructed in 1934 and retrofitted in 1966. Construction of the proposed new seawall will include the landward placement of 605 “Cast-In-Drilled-Hole” piles, ranging from 2.6 ft. to 3 ft. in diameter. The piles will extend down to 54 ft. below the elevation of the adjacent road way and will maintain the same longitudinal footprint as the existing seawall to be demolished. The existing seawall will be removed to two feet below the lowest winter beach sand profile and all existing rock revetment will be removed. An eleven foot tall curved seawall fascia that has been designed to minimize tidal and wave overtopping will be added to the seaward side and top of the piles after the existing seawall is removed.

More Info:

Coastal Commission:
Coastal Commission Staff Report for Permit # 4-11-026 may be downloaded at this link: