Monday, January 30, 2017

January storms renew the river

Jan 23, 2017 Satellite water vapor image shows
"atmospheric river" directed at Southern California  
The Pacific high finally broke down in later January 2017 to allow a series of storms to deliver much-needed rainfall to the Ventura River watershed.  Totals of up to 5 inches for the storms, and 15-20 inches for the season, brought the river back to life after five years of prolonged drought.

2-day rainfall totals Jan 23, 2017

On Jan 20,  I witnessed first-hand the "flash flood" effect following Friday morning's downpour.  The photos below show flood flows at upstream sites on the Ventura River, but when I arrived at Foster Park the flows were just getting there...

Hwy 150 bridge looking upstream
Jan 20, 2017: 11:41am

Santa Ana bridge looking upstream
Jan 20, 2017: 11:47am

Foster Park above bridge
Jan 20, 2017: 11:57 am
"first flush" arriving
Foster Park above bridge
Jan 20, 2017:  12:02 pm
flows rising within 5 minutes

The video shows the first "flush" of water as it passes under the Foster Park bridge and flows rapidly rise.  If you listen carefully you can hear the Arundo snapping as the flows surge downstream for the first time since 2011.

Sunday's storm was the bigger event, and once the rains stopped many people went out to witness the river come back to life.

Hwy 150 Bridge
Sunday Jan 22, 2017: 3:37pm

Cozy Del Creek flooding N Rice Road

Cozy Del Creek flowing through
Ventura River Preserve

McDonald Drain flowing into
Ventura River Preserve

The three main inflows to Lake Casitas are Santa Ana Creek, Coyote Creek, and the Robles Diversion which delivers water diverted from above the Ventura River Preserve.  Of the three, Coyote Creek appeared to deliver the largest inflows.  Erosional waves were calving off large sections of the steep creek banks, certainly contributing sediment to the lake.  

Santa Ana Creek Bridge - flows into Lake Casitas
Sunday Jan 22, 2017

Coyote Creek flowing through drain under
Hwy 150 and into Lake Casitas

Robles Diversion Canal
flowing into lake Casitas

At Robles Diversion, Casitas Water District experienced problems as floating debris clogged the diversion screens resulting in mechanical difficulties and limiting the amount of water diverted.  According to their website;
 Water from the Ventura River is redirected into the Lake via the Robles Canal and the local watershed. The latest rain event has produced the largest diversions since 2011. Flows in the Ventura River need to be maintain for a given period before diversions can occur. This is due to regulatory requirements related to fish and other water agencies downstream that rely on the rivers flow as well. Diversions lasted for little more than two days, starting on Sunday, January 22, 2017, resulting in increasing lake volume from 35.3 to 36.7%. We will need a lot more rain this year before we are able to recover from the last five years of drought. Continued water conservation needs to be maintained.   

Map of Lake Casitas area showing Coyote Creek and Santa Ana Creek drainages
Excerpt from

This hydrograph illustrates how quickly the river rises in response to a storm.  It also shows that now that the ground is saturated the "base flow" of the river in response to this series of storms is maintaining at a level greater than had we only had Friday's rains. 

Ventura River flows at Foster Park
January 19-26, 2017

Following the storms Casitas Water District reported a 3 ft rise in lake level, and the Ventura River Water District reported an 8 ft increase in groundwater levels.  This represents the beginning of a recharge cycle, and as long as the river and creeks are flowing we will continue to recharge our water supplies.

And of course this flush was enough to open the river mouth and put a bit more sand and cobble on the beach!

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

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 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