LA Water Quality Control Board Shoots Down Pumping Permit Extension While C.I. Harbor Stagnates

By George Miller
Actually, the city helped to cause this water quality problem in its headlong rush to stop NRG, without suficient regard to the many consequences of tax revenues, jobs, backup power, civic improvements and oh, yeah, harbor water circulation. We warned the Council, staff and residents repeatedly, to no avail. Now, Channel Islands Harbor, the jewel of Oxnard, is jeopardized. 
The City Council flat out refused to negotiate with NRG and took no steps we’re aware of to plan for eventualities, such as this.
What will the city do now? The aerators installed aren’t up to the job. Will they take over the pumps and apply for a permit? Keith Moore advocates digging a new inlet near the Mandalay power plant and expanding the harbor northward and Eastward. This ambitious development undertaking would create tremendous value in real estate and recreation and really put Oxnard on the map. At least it would if the city and the Coastal Commission didn’t tie it up in red tape for a generation.
The City sent out this self-serving ptress release today:

City of Oxnard and Local Stakeholders Seek Long Term Solution to Water Quality Concerns in the Channel Islands Harbor

OXNARD, Calif. – On Thursday, September 13, 2018, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board held a public meeting to consider terminating NRG California South LP Mandalay Generating Station’s (NRG) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. An NPDES permit, which is required under the federal Clean Water Act, regulates a discharge of pollutants into the ocean. The Regional Water Board issued NRG’s NPDES permit in 1977, including regulating pumps that circulated 255 million gallons per day of fresh seawater through the nearby Channel Islands Harbor. This past June, NRG requested to terminate the permit because NRG ceased facility operations.

In response to an algae bloom that occured this June after the pumps were decommissioned, the City of Oxnard has spent over $200,000 and 150 hours of staff time gathering data, installing sensors and aerators, and hiring experts. At the Regional Water Board meeting, Sandra Burkhart, Special Districts Manager for the City of Oxnard, presented information on the City’s efforts and encouraged the Board to delay permit termination until more data could be gathered and analyzed and a plan devised to mitigate the loss of circulation provided by the pumps. The City also requested that the Board offer its expertise in further testing and help locate funds for such services. Dozens of harbor residents voiced their opposition to the permit’s termination.

The Regional Water Board acknowledged potential water quality impacts from the discontinuation of pumping but voted unanimously to terminate NRG’s permit. The Board stated it could not require NRG to maintain its permit if NRG had already shut down its facility. However, the Board directed its staff to look into funding possibilities, offer its expertise in water quality testing to the City, and return with regular updates.

Others also voiced their support for a solution to the water quality issue. Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza encouraged the Board to stay involved. His office had previously purchased a $25,000 sensor. Heal the Bay’s representative told the Board her organization would likewise stay involved and committed to help find funding.

The City of Oxnard commends our dedicated residents and local stakeholders for the advocacy efforts and looks forward to working with the Regional Water Board in this effort. The City remains committed to appropriate actions to evaluate and address water quality. The public can view the test results at on a geographic information system (GIS) map.

The City of Oxnard is a full-service general law city incorporated in 1903. Oxnard is the largest and most populous city in the County of Ventura, serving 200,000 culturally diverse residents. Read more about the City of Oxnard at Follow us on social media at (@CityofOxnard), and

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George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard. 

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Dotty Pringle
Dotty Pringle
2 years ago

I’m sure there is a gate or pipes in place to help with a solution. Can’t some engineers go and look at the plant and where the water is not circulating and come up with something…..maybe a
Sluice Gate that works with the tides?

It will be up to the homeowner residents and the city. Ventura does not claim that portion for responsibility.

Sea Walls are failing too!