Oxnard Councilman Perello Pursues Channel Islands Harbor Water Quality Solution

By George Miller

For over a half century, Oxnard Channel Islands Harbor water cleanliness was enhanced  by the massive water cooling pumps of the NRG power plant, which was shut down in March, after prolonged opposition from environmentalists and NIMBY’s. Many millions of gallons daily were drawn out of the harbor to cool the half-gigawatt natural gas generators when they were running.  This aided harbor water circulation, helping to avoid stagnation. While tidal movement from the harbor entrance also helps flush out the harbor, it is less effective in the northern reaches, which include the residential waterfront neighborhoods of Seabridge, Westport and Mandalay Bay.

Upper Channel Islands Harbor. Yellow markers indicate test station locations.

After residents first expressed alarm, then militancy, over rapidly deteriorating water quality, the council swung into action and directed the city to investigate and act. Initially, public works personnel treated it as a regular algae bloom, but no residents could remember one so early or so severe.

This publication pointed out the potential problem posed by the pumps’ upcoming shutdown a  couple of years ago, to no avail, evidently. 

Multiple council members have cited the harbor as one of Oxnard’s leading assets/attractions. All Council members have been very supportive of ensuring that the problems are diagnosed and any needed corrective actions are taken. We were hearing that all work is being billed to harbor neighborhood districts, but Councilman Perello said that work to date was paid out of the General Fund.  We will attempt to verify that.

Perello, who will represent the harbor area in the newly designated “District 1” if he is re-elected this year and Mayor Flynn, who would be elected at large, have been especially active on this issue.

It is our understanding that Perello is attempting to have the Water Quality District not let former Mandalay power plant operator parent company NRG off the hook with respect to their responsibilities and to ensure that along-term plan is put in place. Things may be complicated by the fact that the NRG subsidiary which actually ran the power plant was placed into bankruptcy.

Who’s in charge?

Although all this is occurring in the nominal jurisdiction of the City of Oxnard, it appears that the lead agency for this issue would be the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB). Accordingly, Councilman Perello has directed some correspondence to them: PerelloLetterToLARWQB-081018

He sent us this note with the materials:

Attached, I’ve included a PDF version of my 30-page document package which I sent to the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) earlier this afternoon before their 5:00 p.m. submittal deadline.

These documents will be part of the administrative and public record that the LARWQCB will consider during their September 13th public hearing on their Tentative Termination Order for the Waste Discharge Requirements related to cessation of the Once-Through-Cooling (OTC) circulation pumping operations by NRG.

The PDF document package is composed of a three page transmittal letter, and a twenty-seven page PPT on the June-July Water Quality Event and Testing Results that was delivered by the City’s Consultant during the July 11, 2018 CIHTF meeting.

I’ve also created JPEG versions of my three-page transmittal letter for easy posting on the Citizen Journal Facebook Page and/or website, which I am requesting you do so your many readers have the benefit of seeing the actions I am taking to try and keep the LARWQCB effectively engaged and proactively involved regarding joint City-County-State efforts I am trying to encourage to help deal with these pressing Channel Islands Harbor water quality issues.

I would greatly appreciate your assistance in helping get this information out into the public square.

Here’s the referenced transmittal letter:

On August 9, Mayor ProTem Ramirez also send this  to LARWQCB:

City of Oxnard Letter to LARWQCB 8 9 18


The 9-13-18 meeting agenda was not yet available when we checked: https://waterboards.ca.gov/losangeles/board_info/agenda/

Will advise when we get it. We are informed by Councilman Perello that the meeting will be held Thursday, September 13th, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Government Center, 800 So. Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA. It begins at 9:00 a.m. 


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

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