Friday, September 18, 2020

Channelkeeper and Ventura Settlement Agreement

from the press release of August 24, 2020:

 Channelkeeper and the City of Ventura Amend Settlement Agreement 

The City of San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, a local environmental group, have announced an amendment to their settlement agreement in the lawsuit regarding the pumping and diversion of water from the Ventura River Watershed. Both Channelkeeper and the City remain committed to ensuring the protection of this local water source and the species that rely on it. The ongoing collaboration enables dialogue toward a locally developed solution to continue moving forward.

Under the modified terms, the City will continue the Pilot Program it implemented in 2019 to reduce its pumping and diversion of water from the Ventura River when flows drop during dry times, in order to help protect wildlife that depend on the river. The Pilot Program was originally set to expire in March of 2020, however, the City continues to honor the flow regime set in place. The most notable change with the amendment is that the City will shut down most of its pumping facilities at Foster Park when flows drop below 4 cubic feet per second (CFS), and stop all production when flows drop below 3 CFS instead of 2 CFS. The City will also use its two new gauges at Foster Park to monitor the impacts, if any, its pumping has on flow in the river at these levels.

Additionally, the City and Channelkeeper have agreed to keep a dialogue open to identify additional ways to work collaboratively on other Watershed and habitat-related public relations efforts.

“We are pleased to continue this important dialogue with Channelkeeper, and I believe this amendment strikes a balance of addressing our concerns for the species and habitat while also meeting the needs of serving our customers,” said Susan Rungren, Ventura Water’s General Manager.

This is a meaningful commitment to preserve river flows until a long-term solution is finalized, and we are glad to have been able to reach it through dialogue with the City,” said Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s Science and Policy Director. The original agreement and this amendment provide added assurance to Channelkeeper for the better protection of steelhead during the dry season while the City works with other parties to propose a long-term framework that protects the Ventura River for steelhead and other instream uses and for the needs of water users, recreation, and the local economy.

In the news:


Ventura, Channelkeeper modify settlement agreement, Ojai Valley News, Aug 24, 2020


During the month of November were flows dropped to low levels at Foster Park.  The City-installed gages were reading over 4 cfs, while the USGS Ventura River gage located just downstream was reading less than 2 cfs.   Stream flow measurements were taken at Foster Park to try to groundtruth the discrepancies between the City gages and USGS.  These measurements were closer to the USGS numbers. 

measuring flows at Foster Park 11-19-2020

In response, the City arranged to meet in the field with their consultant who installed and manages their two gages.  These field measurements confirmed that the gages were reading high.   The City gages were re-staged and pumping was discontinued the next day.  The gages subsequently showed a slow increase in flows downstream from the wellfield in response to decreased pumping and diversion. 

Ventura gage V2 upstream of Foster Park wellfield
(the sharp drop reflects gage restaging)

Ventura gage V1 below Foster Park wellfield
(the sharp drop reflects gage restaging)

USGS gage 11118500 below Foster Park
shows rebound after pump shutoff

On this blog:

ChannelKeeper sues to save a drying river

ChannelKeeper settlement on City's pumping

Ventura Initiates Adjudication 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Ventura sues for indigenous water rights

More than 6 months after the City of Ventura served notices on all water rights holders in the Ventura River watershed, notices were served to the local Chumash tribal elders.  

(courtesy Ojai Valley News)

A response was published in the Ojai Valley News:

 July 10, 2020, the City of Ventura served papers on the Chumash tribal leaders, as a California Native American tribe: the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians, telling them their rights are subordinate to the City. All Chumash, the indigenous people, are being diminished, dismissed and insulted by the City’s assertion of Pueblo-misson rights.

On July 23, in response to nationwide and local protests, the City of Ventura removed a statue of Junípero Serra, the founder of Mission San Buenaventura.  According to the LA Times:

Serra was the founder of nine of 21 missionaries in California during the 18th century.  While he spread Roman Catholicism throughout much of California, then a Spanish territory, many Native American tribes were decimated through the introduction of foreign diseases, the destruction of villages and native plants and animals.  Natives Americans also were forced into the construction of the missions, faced high death rates and were subjected to harsh corporal punishment.

 The response to the City's lawsuit continues:

It is hypocritical of the City of Ventura in one act to vote to remove the Serra statue and on the other to assert that the city’s water rights somehow, outrageously, supersede the rights of our land’s first inhabitants. The lawsuit’s claims undermine their own values. Where is the truth and dignity of the Ventura City Council members?


On this blog:

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Economic Benefits of Dam Removal

An report published by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute outlines the economic benefits of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.

from the website

... A valued forum for stakeholder engagement and a respected source of information and fact-based analysis, the Institute is a trusted partner and advisor to both business leaders and government officials. Through its economic and policy research and its many partnerships, the Institute addresses major factors impacting the competitiveness, economic development and quality of life of the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, science and technology, and health policy. 

An example of their analysis is summarized in the table below.  Note the multiple project components of the watershed-scale effort to remove Matilija Dam and restore the Ventura River ecosystem.

The full report may be downloaded here: