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

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

Promenade revetment after construction, June 2020

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

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: