Thursday, July 9, 2020

Matilija Reservoir Drained

Matilija reservoir was drained over the 4th of July weekend.    According to county staff, this was done in response to safety concerns, as identified by the state Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) as well as the liability resulting from recreational use of the dam site. The 12" valve controlling the dam outlet was opened on the morning of Wednesday, July 1, releasing flows of approximately 30 cubic feet per second downstream.  The valve will remain open maintaining the reservoir in a drained state until the winter rains.   

Images of the drained reservoir reveal the degree of additional sedimentation since the Thomas Fire, which has reduced the storage capacity to less than 150 acre feet.  As illustrated in the photos below, the initial flush released relatively clear water, but downstream water quality degraded as flows began to cut a channel through the sediment.  

Prior images on this blog:

In the news:
How Oroville Is Changing Dam Safety in California, Public Policy Institute of California, March 28, 2018

Reference:



Matilija Reservoir, July 2, 2020

Matilija Reservoir, July 3, 2020

Matilija Reservoir, July 8, 2020


Matilija Reservoir, July 12, 2020

Matilija Dam and drained reservoir,
July 8, 2020

Matilija Dam and intake to the outlet pipe,
July 8, 2020

Matilija Dam intake to the outlet pipe,
July 8, 2020


Downstream of Matilija Dam,
July 7, 2020



Confluence of North Fork (foreground) and Matilija Creek 
July 8, 2020

Camino Cielo Bridge, July 2, 2020

Camino Cielo Bridge, July 6, 2020


Ventura River at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-2-2020


Ventura River at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-4-2020




Ventura River at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-6-2020



Ventura River at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-8-2020


Ventura River at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-12-2020



Ventura River looking downstream at Camino Cielo Bridge
7-8-2020




Ventura River at Oso trailhead crossing,
July 8, 2020














Monday, June 15, 2020

Restoring Flows to the Ventura River - Webinar

On June 11, Ben Pitterle provided an excellent overview and update on Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper's actions to restore flows to the Ventura River.  The webinar is now on YouTube:

 


More information and videos are on the Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper website.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Covid crush


The global pandemic led to closures of beaches and trails around the world.  But differing levels of enforcement in neighboring jurisdictions led to unintended consequences.

The closure of beaches and trails in LA County resulted in significant overcrowding in Ventura County.  This prompted Ventura County to close beach parking up and down the coast, and jurisdictions such as Conejo Open Space District to close their trails.  This forced people further north.

Although beach parking was closed in the City of Ventura, beach access remained open.  Word travels quickly these days, and the crowds soon converged.

Crowds converge at C-St in Ventura with beach closures to the south, May 2, 2020
(Surfline webcam)


The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy's Ventura River Preserve, a relative unknown to out-of-towners, also quickly became a popular hot spot.   Overcrowding on weekends became such a problem that they too ultimately had to close trailheads on weekends starting May 15.

OVLC preserves have been experiencing an unprecedented high level of use resulting in significant resource management issues.

In an attempt to stay open for the past two weekends, OVLC took the extraordinary step of hiring outside security to remind folks of preserve rules and try to manage the crowds. While this has helped, streambank habitats and water quality are still being noticeably harmed. Visitors are trampling vegetation, disturbing the streambed, and have left mountains of trash.

Unfortunately, these issues leave us no choice but to close the Ventura River Preserve Trailheads (Oso, Riverview, and Old Baldwin Road) for the remainder of the month of May, Fridays – Mondays.



If one thing became more clear than ever, outdoor access is important, and even more during the pandemic.  With layoffs and families stuck inside with all beaches and trails closed within the metropolis to our south, Ventura County has been the closest escape.

In the news:

Patchwork of jurisdictions and closures add confusion to beach, park access
Ventura County closes Foster Park over crowds and illegal parking; cars clog Highway 150
Authorities respond to gunshot victim in Matilija Canyon
Coronavirus: Some call for parking restrictions after crowds slam local hiking trail
Trail-goers urged to avoid Wildwood this weekend as crowds, problems persist
Coronavirus: The latest on parking lot closures at Santa Monica Mountains parks, trails
Governor singles out Orange County beaches, spares Ventura County from closures

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Matilija Dam final design grant approved


Another grant has been approved for the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.  $5M from the state Wildlife Conservation Board will fund final design and engineering for the removal of the dam as well as downstream levees.  This funding will keep the project moving forward after the current work under a $3.3M California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) grant is completed in 2021 and get these projects "shovel ready."


Concept illustration of Matilija Dam with two 12' diameter holes to flush sediment from the reservoir


An excerpt from the press release at CDFW News:

At its May 20, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.
Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.
Funded projects include:
  • A $5 million grant to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District for a planning project that will complete final design plans for Matilija Dam removal and for three downstream levee construction/rehabilitation projects as essential components of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, a watershed-scale dam removal initiative and one of California’s largest dam removal efforts located five miles northwest of Ojai in Ventura County
... For more information about the WCB please visit wcb.ca.gov.

With support from the Resources Legacy Foundation (RLF) through its Open Rivers Fund, the Matilija Dam Funding Committee has successfully assisted the Ventura County Watershed Protection District in raising over $20M towards the removal of the obsolete Matilija Dam.  This latest news confirms the successful strategy outlined in the 2017 Funding Plan developed for this complex project:

Concurrent with the design work undertaken with the CDFW Prop 1 grant funds, the Subcommittee will actively pursue additional funding to enable design and construction of those individual Project components that are not likely to be significantly altered in bringing the Project to 65% design ready. Such funding would advance the Project on a faster timeline. Moreover, developing “shovel ready” project components will be critical to securing funding from currently existing state funding sources and evolving legislative opportunities. If successful, this strategy will not only lead to dam removal sooner, but significantly reduce the overall cost of the Project.


Matilija Dam Grant Funding 2016-2020

Dec 2016-2020  Resources Legacy Fund/Open Rivers Project          $707,500
May 2017          CDFW    65% Design Planning Project                  $3,300,504
Sept 2017          NFWF     Estuarine and Coastal Modeling                $278,002
May 2019          CDFW     Santa Ana Bridge Replacement            $13,426,938
May 2020          WCB       Final Design                                             $5,025,000
Total:                                                                                               $22,737,944  


On this blog:

November 30, 2016
Hewlett Foundation support for Matilija Dam Removal

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Promenade Emergency Repairs






During the week of January 6, 2020, City crews were notified of a large void beneath the Ventura Promenade. Upon inspection, it was discovered that the revetment and foundation material had eroded away.



Sandbag temporary protection, Ventura Promenade
February 8, 2020

The City initially pumped concrete to fill the void under the walkway to prevent collapse.

The final project phase consists of installing approximately 200 linear feet of up to 4-Ton size rock revetment along the beach side of the Promenade starting just east of the beach access stairs at Paseo de Playa. Work began the week of May 1 and access along the promenade will be blocked while construction is underway. More information here.


Equipment placing boulders, Ventura Promenade, May 5, 2020
(photo from webcam Surfline.com)

It has been almost a decade since the last time rocks were placed in front of the promenade.  At that time sufficient funding was not available for the planned improvements, including replacing the stairs and installing a shower at Paseo de Plaza.  As predicted, that section of the promenade will soon need a re-work.  


Ventura Promenade, ongoing erosion at the site of the last reinforcement in 2011

Work is currently being done under an Emergency Permit from the Coastal Commission.  By definition, the Coastal Act provides for "emergency" when "unforeseen" events occur.  Will this next section of the promenade be another "emergency" or will the City undertake comprehensive planning and budgeting to maintain our beaches?

Unfortunately this 50-year-old infrastructure is showing its age, and the cost of maintaining or replacing it may become untenable in the face of rising seas.

On this blog:   Ventura Promenade repairs, May 11, 2011

City of Ventura:  https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/1142/City-Projects

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Elwah steelhead success story


More good news from the Elwah River...  An article in Northwest Sportsman reveals the incredible resilience of the steelhead which have rebounded faster than predicted following the removal of two dams on the Elwah River in Washington State.  The video, "Rising from the Ashes" tells the story from the perspective of the dedicated biologists and volunteers who have undertaken annual snorkel surveys on the remote and hard to access river in the wilderness of the Olympic National Park.

The rapid recovery of the summer steelhead on the Elwah demonstrate the value of resident rainbow trout above dams.  Given the chance, even after 100 years with no possibility of returning from the ocean, these fish can make a comeback.

This is real world confirmation of the hope for recovering the endangered southern steelhead populations blocked by Matilija Dam.  With no human intervention, other than just getting out of the way, we can realize a rapid recovery of the native fish and the ecosystem on which we all rely.




New Film Highlights Elwha Summer-runs ‘Rising From The Ashes’, Northwest Sportsman, April 23, 2020

On this blog: steelhead

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Ecosystem flows


Natural flows in rivers throughout the American West have been significantly disrupted by dams and diversions, groundwater extraction, land use changes, and other human influences.  Over time this has led to the decline of freshwater ecosystems to the point that many species have become endangered.  For instance, rivers rely on natural floods for maintenance of the river channel and floodplain, and flow of critical nutrients and biota.  Large dams mute or eliminate downstream flooding (winter flood pulses) by capturing these flows in a reservoir.  Similarly most western rivers are drying up during the dry months (summer/early fall base flows), an increasing concern with more frequent drought and heat due to climate change, and the primary concern on the Ventura River.

Functional Flows, figure from "A Path Forward for California's Fresh Water Ecosystems", PPIC 2019
The diagram shown here illustrates alterations to the natural flow regime throughout the year and a proposed "Functional flow regime."  The aim of functional flows is to re-establish some of the basic river functions in highly modified systems to restore ecosystem function.

The question is how to develop a management paradigm to allocate water to functional flows and ecosystem health?


A recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California presents the case for Ecosystem Based Management as a solution to California's water problems.  Maven's Notebook presents an excellent summary of recent discussions along with the technical references.


In particular, this report concludes that the current management focus on endangered species is failing, and we need a more holistic approach:

Ecosystem-based management emphasizes the simultaneous management of water, land, and species to improve ecosystem condition for native biodiversity and human uses. It shifts the management emphasis to the social, economic, and environmental benefits that come from healthy ecosystems, rather than narrowly focusing on mitigating harm to protected species.

Sustainable watershed management plans, backed by binding comprehensive agreements, are the best way to accomplish ecosystem-based management. These agreements can be adopted by state and federal regulators to meet Clean Water Act and ESA requirements and can align other agency priorities and actions.

With ecosystem-based management, there are a suite of actions available.  The first is to establish an ecosystem water budget that is an allocation of water for the environment that functions much like a senior water right that can store, trade, and flexibly allocate that water to respond to changing conditions.

An outline of this management approach is presented in the PPIC Policy Recommendations:

Promote inclusive planning and governance

  • Identify the desired ecosystem condition
  • Establish metrics
  • Provide strong scientific support
  • Set up transparent governance
  • Ensure reliable funding

Employ multiple ecosystem management tools
  • Establish ecosystem water budgets
  • Employ functional flows
  • Manage native and non-native species
  • Manage at the appropriate scale

Encourage sustainable watershed management plans
  • Align agency actions
  • Promote comprehensive agreements
  • Set timelines and backstops
  • Update water quality control plans
  • Incentivize or mandate plans

It is important to highlight the differences between ecosystem-based management and other, often similar approaches. For example, 

      * ecosystem management seeks to manage the ecosystem for species conservation goals and objectives, such as resilient populations of native plants and animals. This is accomplished principally by constraining land and water use and often uses recovery of protected species as a primary objective. In contrast, 

      * ecosystem-based management integrates human uses into the setting of conservation goals and objectives, balancing the uses of the resource. Ecosystem-based management also differs from 

      * Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which focuses principally on coordination and funding of local water management projects while managing their impacts on ecosystems.


Renewed discussion of Ecosystem-based Management supports the vision presented in the Ventura River Ecosystem blog.  This approach applies readily to the Ventura River Watershed, especially with ongoing planning for this priority basin under SGMA.  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act provides for self-organized groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and required groundwater sustainability plans.  However, in our case the Ventura River would ideally combine the two existing GSA's into a single watershed-based agency to better realize the Ecosystem-based management approach.

On this blog:

Ventura River; Ecosystem-based Management

Reference:

text in italics above quoted from: 

Mavens Notebook: Ecosystem-based Management: A New Paradigm for Managing California's Freshwater Ecosystems

A Path Forward for California’s Freshwater Ecosystems, PPIC Water Policy Center, December 2019


More information:

TED GRANTHAM: THE EVOLUTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS IN CALIFORNIA





Sunday, April 5, 2020

March rains


March storm moves over the Ojai Valley. This thunderstorm produced a brief period of hail.

After, a record dry January and February, the rains returned in March.  Perhaps not the "March miracle" of the past, but certainly appreciated given the potential for an otherwise very dry year.  At 13" for the season, Ojai is still way below the 23" average rainfall, but it looks like a wet spring ahead.

28 day Rainfall Map, March 2020

The storm of March 11 delivered almost 5 inches at Old Man Mountain, which typically registers the highest rainfall in the region.  Old Man Mountain lies at the headwaters of Matilija Creek, resulting in quickly rising waters during a downpour.  


24 hour rainfall, March 16, 2020
The hydrograph below shows flows in the river for the month of March at Matilija Creek and Foster Park.  The March 16th rain event resulted in peak flows for the season.



Ventura River above Hwy 150,  5pm
March 16, 2020


Ventura River at Santa Ana bridge,  6pm
March 16, 2020

This short burst of energy in the river moved significant amounts of sand and gravel sized sediment downstream.  In addition to visible deposition in Matilija reservoir, sedimentation was evident at Robles diversion and the reach downstream in the Ventura River Preserve.   Gravel is an important habitat consideration for the endangered steelhead, which lay eggs in "redds", or pockets formed in the gravel.  The effects of the Thomas Fire continue to be evident as the river transports sediment eroded from the mountains downstream, to the benefit of riverine habitat. 


Robles Diversion dam, March 19, 2020
Ventura River downstream of Robles Diversion, gravel bars, March 19, 2020
Ventura River Preserve, March 21, 2020


Ventura River Preserve, April 1, 2020

Flows in the river were also translated into rising groundwater at the Ventura River Water District wells and increased storage in Lake Casitas.

Water Supply, Courtesy of Ventura River Water District
April 1, 2020

At time of writing the watershed is preparing for another potentially significant storm and more rainfall for the week of April 5.


On this blog:
Matilija Reservoir March 2020
Steelhead spawning surveys
Thomas Fire


Reference:
Ventura County Rainfall map
Casitas Municipal Water District
Ventura River Water District

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Matilija Reservoir March 2020

Matilija Reservoir March 17, 2020
It appears that our March rainfall event moved more sediment into Matilija reservoir.   Flows in the upstream delta are currently split so that the remnant reservoir has two inlets, one on each bank.  Last year saw significant deposits at the right bank (background of this photo.)  Here, new deposits are visible on the left bank (in the foreground of the photo).

Matilija Reservoir March 21, 2020
By March 21, the reservoir elevation had been lowered due to Casitas Municipal Water District's operations to release water from Matilija reservoir for downstream diversion at Robles.  This revealed the extent of the sedimentation, and allowed the inlet flows to erode a channel.  Note that although the creek was flowing clear, the reservoir still had suspended sediment lingering from earlier in the week.

The hydrograph below shows the flows recorded at USGS gages just below Matilija Dam (red line 11114495) and downstream at Foster Park (green line 11118500).  The difference between these lines is approximately what is diverted into Lake Casitas (excepting other inflow from North Fork Matilija Creek.)


Note the small peak at Foster Park on March 19 when the operation of Robles diversion was temporarily interrupted for maintenance, perhaps due to the influx of sand and gravel moving downstream.
Robles Diversion dam, 6pm March 19, 2020

Robles Diversion, daily and year to date Acre-feet, March 2020


On this blog: Ventura River post-fire sedimentation 2019


USGS Flow gages:
Foster Park:      https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/uv?site_no=11118500
Matilija Creek: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/uv?site_no=11114495

Casitas Municipal Water District diversions:  https://www.casitaswater.org/your-water/learn-about-diversions


Friday, March 13, 2020

Lower Ventura River - a decade of cleanup


Almost a decade after the initial cleanup in the lower Ventura River, nonprofits and volunteers continue to take on the endless role as "Trash man" to those who leave their waste in the river bottom.

This video illustrates the dirty job undertaken by Dan Hulst, Preserve Director with the Ventura Land Trust.  It is still a full time job...

The Lower Ventura River from Jason Hernandez on Vimeo.


Looking back to 2011, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, seeking to bring attention to a growing problem,  performed surveys of the area and estimated over 200 people living in the river bottom with no trash or sanitary facilities.  The sheer volume of toxic and human waste poised to flush into the ocean was overwhelming.








In 2012, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, now Ventura Land Trust, acquired the property downstream of the Main Street bridge.  Working through a process set up through a Trash TMDL, local authorities served eviction notices to the camps, and the Conservancy was able to come in and clean up the mess.


Eviction Day (2012) from Matt Linkin on Vimeo.




Ventura Land Trust continues to monitor and maintain the area, working with law enforcement and organizing volunteer workdays to clean up the never-ending mess.  A long term solution has yet to be developed, but social service agencies and nonprofits continue to make progress on improving access to shelters and transitional housing for those who desire.


For more information and to volunteer, contact:

Dan Hulst, Preserve Director, Ventura Land Trust: dan@venturalandtrust.org

Ben Pitterle, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper: ben@sbck.org


On this blog:

2011:
Stream Team Trash Survey
Salmon Run focuses on trash issue

2012:
VHC River Cleanup
More River Cleanups

2013:
Ventura River Cleanup short film

Monday, February 24, 2020

Matilija Dam meetings February 2020

On February 11, 2020 two meetings were held to update stakeholders on progress being made on the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.  Technical studies have been underway since 2018 with support from a $3.3 million grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As the earlier studies suggest, removal of the dam and release of the impounded sediment has implications for much of the infrastructure downstream including bridges, levels, and water supply components.  The current work has been focused on the feasibility of the new dam removal method, analyzing the sediment transport, and re-evaluating the downstream infrastructure needs.



The Technical Stakeholder Group met from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Ventura County's Saticoy Operations Yard.  The agenda was filled with technical presentations from the project consultants:

1. Welcome and Introductions – WPD – Peter Sheydayi
2. Dam Removal Contract - AECOM and Stillwater Sciences
      a. Field Investigations
      b. Dam Structural Evaluations
      c. Sediment and Hydraulic Analysis
      d. Predictability of Flushing Event
      e. Re-evaluation of downstream Project Components and Real Estate Plan
      f. Short-term Water Supply Mitigation Alternatives Refinement
      g. Long-term Water Supply Mitigation Alternatives Refinement (Robles)
3. Santa Ana Bridge – WPD
4. Camino Cielo Bridge – Dokken
5. Levees (Casitas Springs, Live Oak Acres, Meiners Oaks) – Tetra Tech
6. Coastal Sediment Studies – Integral
7. CEQA Update and Permit Plan – Aspen
8. Project Schedule and Upcoming Grants – WPD
9. Closing – WPD (5 min) – Peter Sheydayi



The evening Community Stakeholder Update meeting  was held from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm at the Oak View Park and Resource Center Auditorium.

1.    Welcome and Introductions – Andrew Spyrka (VCRCD), Glenn Shephard (VCWPD)
2.    Project Overview – Peter Sheydayi (VCWPD), Paul Jenkin (Surfrider Foundation)
3.    Funding Updates – Hans Cole (Patagonia, Inc.), David Yardas (Project Consultant)
4.    Organizational Updates  – Sam Jenniches (State Coastal Conservancy)
5.    Technical Updates  – Peter Sheydayi, Brian Person (AECOM)
6.    Project Schedule – Peter Sheydayi
7.    Questions and Discussion – Public and Presenters
8.    Closing  – Glenn Shephard, Andrew Spyrka


In case you missed it, the evening meeting was recorded and up on the Ventura River Watershed Council's YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLl5VJLQz4J09gGt3vbQuni9_Wv-pDwBgd



On this blog:

Matilija Dam State Prop 1 grant


More on the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife grants:

Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project



Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ventura River Adjudication – Remembering the Past


Mission San Buenaventura
founded March 31, 1782
water supply through aqueduct
from the Ventura River
 at what is now Foster Park
The current controversy surrounding the adjudication of water rights to the Ventura River has focused on the most recent efforts by the City of Ventura to secure its water rights to the Ventura River.  Many may not know that this effort has deep roots in the past.

The City of Ventura was incorporated in 1886, but it claim to the waters of the Ventura River extend back to the establishment of Mission San Buenaventura in 1782.  In addition to the Missions, the Spanish and Mexican governments also established a series of Pueblos and Ranchos between 1769 and 1835 in what later became the state of California. Despite its not being a successor to one of the eight original Spanish or Mexican Pueblos, the City has periodically asserted its claim to the waters of the Ventura River based on a Pueblo water right.

In 1976 the City of Ventura attempted to assert a Pueblo water right against the Casitas Municipal Water District.  The appropriative water rights granted to Casitas in the 1950’s required them to bypass the first 20 cubic feet per second of flow at the Robles Diversion to protect downstream water rights.  The City claimed, however, that this provision did not fully protect its Pueblo water rights.


















Conjunctive Use


Ojai Valley News, Feb 18, 1979
To resolve this dispute, without formally asserting and establishing the City’s Pueblo water right, the City and Casitas proposed to enter into a Conjunctive Use Agreement. This agreement would have allowed Casitas to divert all of the low flow of the Ventura River at its Robles Diversion (up to 500 cubic feet per second) to Lake Casitas.  In exchange Casitas would guarantee the City up to 6,000 acre-feet of water annually from Lake Casitas.

In 1978, the Friends of the Ventura River filed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Impact Report’s conclusion that the Conjunctive Use Agreement would not adversely affect the Ventura River.  In 1984, after losing in the lower courts, the California Supreme Court rejected the City’s appeal, effectively terminating the Conjunctive Use Agreement.




Endangered Species and Clean Water

In 1997, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed steelhead trout in southern California as an endangered species. Rather than comply with new regulatory requirements, the City decided to forego surface diversion and instead rely on its wells at Foster Park.

In 1998, the State of California formally recognized that the Ventura River was impaired by excessive pumping and diversions pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act.

In 2003 NMFS sent a letter notifying the City that the continued operation of the Foster Park wells posed a serious threat to steelhead. In 2007 NMFS issued a “draft jeopardy biological opinion” that specified a minimum flow to protect steelhead at Foster Park.  In response, the City chose to postpone repairs and enlargement of its well field, and recommenced the operation of its other existing wells in the Foster Park area.

A Dry River

In 2013, the City’s hydrology consultants concluded that their pumping was detrimental to critical habitat for endangered steelhead in the Ventura River. The City continued to pump unabated, and from 2014 to 2016 the Ventura River was pumped completely dry at Foster Park for a significant portion of the year.

In 2014, after many years of monitoring water quality in the Ventura River under a program certified by the State, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit asking the State to compel the City to reduce its pumping at Foster Park consistent with NMFS requirements. The City responded by petitioning to have the lawsuit dismissed and also simultaneously filed cross-complaints against all other water right holders in the watershed.  The Court rejected the City’s petition.

In 2018, the Appellate Court allowed the City’s cross-complaint against all water right holders to proceed. In 2019, the City signed an interim agreement with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, based on the NMFS 2007 jeopardy biological opinion, and entered into a court-sponsored settlement agreement process with major water purveyors and several major agricultural landowners.


Adjudication

In January 2020, the City of Ventura commenced adjudication by serving legal summons to over 10,000 individual water rights holders in the Ventura River watershed.

(note: Adjudication is just a fancy word for suing everybody in the basin, and to resolve groundwater rights, you have to bring in all the users.)

Ventura Assistant City Manager, Akbar Alikhan, responding to questions about the Ventura River adjudication, claimed “…this is not a water grab. We are trying to find a solution that balances the needs of the local habitat while still providing the valuable water to our local residences.” 

Given the City’s long history of claiming unlimited, and unrestricted rights to the waters of the Ventura River, is it reasonable to ask what that balance will be?

Residents who use the watershed, whether as water supply or outdoor recreation, have a stake in the outcome of this latest chapter in the long history of exploitation of the Ventura River.



In the press:

Ventura River adjudication: Remembering the past, Ojai Valley News,  Friday, 14 February 2020

POWER TO SPEAK | VENTURA RIVER ADJUDICATION: REMEMBERING THE PAST, VC Reporter,  Feb 26, 2020

References:

The Friends of the Ventura River maintains a library of documents:  http://friendsofventurariver.org/document/

Ventura River 1978 Conjunctive Use Agreement & DEIR (Part 1), Casitas MWD & City of SanBuenaventura, June 1978

Ventura River 1978 Conjunctive Use Agreement & DEIR (Part 2) Casitas MWD & City of SanBuenaventura, June 1978

Friends Prevents River Untimely Death, Ojai Valley News, Feb 1979

It's Your River Too!, Ojai Valley News, March 1979


100 Trout Lead Court to Reject Plan to Tap Ventura Water, LA Times, June 1988


2013 Comprehensive Water Resources Report (Ventura), City of Ventura, 2013

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Complaint v. State Water Resources Control Board and the City of San Buenaventura, Sep 2014

Ventura River Watershed Adjudication Website, City of Ventura, 2020