Thursday, April 27, 2023

Ventura Water Pure Ocean Outfall

The City of Ventura is planning to construct an ocean outfall extending approximately 6,800 feet offshore from Marina Park near the Ventura Harbor.  The outfall and associated pipeline will ultimately serve to dispose of concentrated "brine" from the planned "Ventura Water Pure" wastewater recycling facility.    A new underground pipeline will connect the existing Ventura Water Reclamation Facility to the outfall.  

Initially the City will discharge up to 4.7 million gallons per day (MGD) of tertiary-treated water through the ocean outfall. The Ventura Water Reclamation Facility currently discharges tertiary-treated wastewater into the Santa Clara River Estuary (SCRE) near its connection to the Pacific Ocean.  In March 2010, the Ventura Coastkeeper and Heal the Bay filed a lawsuit alleging that the discharges of the tertiary-treated effluent into the estuary violated State and Federal law.  The City settled and entered into a consent decree requiring the City to develop alternatives that would improve conditions for the habitats and species within the estuary.  The first phase would discharge up to 90% of the City's treated wastewater offshore by 2030.  

The City is also currently planning for the Ventura Water Pure reclamation facility which would further process the tertiary wastewater using reverse osmosis and other treatments to allow injection into local aquifers.  This would provide a new source of water through Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) to help accommodate the City's growth.  The byproduct of this process is a concentrated "brine" which will be disposed offshore through the ocean outfall.  

Construction will mainly impact Marina Park and the harbor area to install the plumbing necessary to disharge offshore as shown in the illustration below. A 20-inch diameter high-density polyethylene (HDPE) Conveyance Pipeline will connect from the wastewater treatment plant at Harbor Boulevard and Olivas Park Drive, extending north along Harbor Boulevard, then west on Schooner Drive, and northwest along Anchors Way where it would connect to the Harbor Crossing. The 20-inch pipe will be bundled with two 8-inch sewer pipes in a 36" pipe to be drilled 30 feet below the harbor bottom to connect with the Ocean Outfall at Marina Park.  

The City completed their environmental analysis of this project in 2019 with an addendum in 2022.  


Surfrider has advocated for water recycling over the past decades, and this ocean outfall is a necessary component of this.  Recycling is accomplished by reverse osmosis which generates a “brine” that has to be disposed of.  Once the WaterPure facility is operating this outfall will be primarily for brine disposal.  In the interim, while the facility is being constructed, the outfall will be used for offshore disposal of tertiary treated wastewater.  This would effectively relocate the disharge from the estuary/nearshore to a mile offshore in Pierpont Bay to comply with a court order resulting from Wishtoyo/HealtheBay lawsuit.
Some of Surfrider's prior comments on this issue are here:

There are some unavoidable impacts with this project, but in the long term it should lead to improvements in our regional water supply and water quality as well as eliminating the impacts to the Santa Clara River Estuary.  Concerns include whether offshore currents could bring the effluent back onshore and of course the implications of sea level rise.   Coastal Commission Staff recognized the sea level rise concerns by reducing the permit from 50 yr to 30 yr at which point they would revisit it.

A big concern is the City's ambition that this outfall could one day be used for an intake of ocean water for desalination.  Surfrider and others have concerns about ocean desalination due to the impacts on the marine ecosystem and the carbon footprint of this energy intensive process.  


California's Ventura Gets $173M in EPA Loans for More Resilient Water Supply, ENR, May 24, 2023

Key funding comes through from EPA to boost water supply in Ventura, VC Star, May 24, 2023

Ventura has been awarded federal loans covering half the costs for a program to convert treated wastewater into safe drinking water and reduce discharges of effluent into the Santa Clara River estuary.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday at the city's water reclamation plant, officials said the venture will benefit the environment, boost water supplies by up to 20% and protect the community against drought.

The financial award is a "monumental milestone," Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder said at the invitational event where federal, state and city officials celebrated the nearly $174 million in funding and promoted the benefits of the project called VenturaWaterPure.

The loans will pay for half of the $354 million to be spent on an initial phase, program Director Linda Sumansky said. Around 60% of the roughly 5.5 million gallons of treated effluent going into the estuary daily will be diverted and an advanced purification plant built. A second phase allowing all the effluent to be diverted will cost another $80 million.


Ventura Water Pure:
Library of Documents:

Pending permit applications include:

California Coastal Commission: Staff Report, Exhibits
State Lands Commission:  Staff Report