Santa Clara River Watershed Committee Presents Regional Water Plans

 By Sheryl Hamlin

Ventura County counts seven watersheds among its many natural assets: Ventura River, Santa Clara River, Calleguas Creek, Malibu Creek, Cuyama River and Coastal Creeks. To manage and protect these assets, the county formed the Watershed Protection District in 1944 as simply a flood control district. Since then, management of these assets has increased its span of duties, so the name was changed to the current name. Read about the Watershed Protection District here which is part of the County Public Works Agency.

Concurrently, planning for Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) was introduced with the passage of state water legislation in 2002, 2006 and 2014. To this extent, Ventura County formed the Watersheds Coalition of Ventura County. The watersheds associated with this coalition are: Calleguas Creek, Ventura River and Santa Clara River. A list of all participants in the coalition may be downloaded here.

In January 2016, The Watersheds Coalition of Ventura County received a grant of $12,296,380 from the State of California for IRWM (Integrated Regional Water Management) projects bringing the total to over $81 million in state water grants. Read about the grant details here. The list of projects is detailed on their website.

From the Watersheds Coalition website, the description of The Santa Clara Watershed Committee is given as follows:

The Santa Clara River Watershed Committee (SCRWC) was formed in July 2006 as a coalition of stakeholders addressing issues critical to the watershed. The SCRWC is engaged in a variety of local planning efforts including development and implementation of an integrated regional water management plan (IRWMP), implementation of integrated projects identified in the IRWMP with Prop. 50 funds, and development of future project ideas to address the objectives developed by the Committee. Meetings are typically held on the fourth Thursday of every month at 9:00 a.m.

The monthly meeting for February 2017 was held on the 23rd in the board room of the United Water Conservation District. Mauricio Guardado, General Manager of UWCD, is the co-chair of the Santa Clara Watershed Committee.

Lynn Rodriquez of the Watersheds Coalition of Ventura County updated the room of about 50 people on the DACIP (Disadvantaged Communities Involvement Program) proposal. The Disadvantaged Communities Involvement Program has produced a draft proposal (comments due 3/1/2017) for spending $19.8 million on disadvantaged communities. She also explained the Municipal Stormwater Resources Plan and its integration into the IRWF Plan. Stormwater is considered a manageable asset for which communities must provide capture and reuse solutions. For new developments, the stormwater capture is required for a development permit.

Three speakers presented “Innovative Plans for Long-Term Water Needs of the Region”. These speakers included Mauricio Guardado, General Manager of United Water Conservation District, Shana Epstein, General Manager of Ventura Water and Susan Mulligan, General Manager of Calleguas Municipal Water district.

United Water Conservation District

Mr. Guardado said there were several potential groundwater supply projects in the Oxnard and Pleasant Valley Basins under consideration. The goal is a sustainable water portfolio for Ventura County. UWCD has developed a sophisticated groundwater monitoring process and a model to compute yields. The rains have increased storage, such as Lake Piru, from 8,000 acre feet to 28,000 acre feet of storage. 1.7 million acre feet of water has been diverted at the Freeman Dam to 700 acres of recharge basins since inception. The goal is continual recharge. Their El Rio facility has 80 acre capacity.

Tony Morgan, Groundwater Department Manager, described the Basin Yield Analysis Model. This model gives them the ability to simulate historical groundwater fluctuations. Using various scenarios, he explained how they can achieve SGMA goals through cuts and diversions in a fine-grained, directed approach, rather than an across the board cut. He used the phrase “conjunctive use”, which is a coordinated use of surface and ground water.

Mr. Guardado finished this segment describing five projects that could yield about 50,000 afy (acre feet per year): 1) bring the Oxnard plant up to capacity, 2) Connejo Connection, 3) brackish water treatment plant, 4) Anacapa Project to harvest water from rain before it goes to ocean and 5) connections to the State Water Project. All of these must be analyzed from a cost and engineering standpoint cooperatively. Doing nothing, he said, is not an option.

City of Ventura

Shana Epstein, General Manager of Ventura Water, said that Ventura solutions are tied to the estuary, the Santa Clara Estuary Plan. The agricultural community requires Reversis Osmosis (RO), which is very expensive. She spoke about “Ventura Water Pure”, a potable reuse project with is available for demonstration at 1400 Spinnaker. She said that polls revealed most support this type of reuse and the technology is used worldwide. They have started CEQA ($1 million study) for the connection to the State Water Project and are considering land acquisition in three different locations. A description can be found here in the RFP. She also spoke of the State Water Project Interconnect Alignment Study and presented a map of the pipes traversing the county.

Calleguas Municipal Water District

Susan Mulligan

Susan Mulligan, General Manager of Calleguas Municipal Water District, spoke of the need for an emergency supply of water. She said that during the Northridge earthquake, the emergency supply lasted three months because it was winter, but had it been in summer, the supply might have only lasted a few weeks. The State Water Project water is stored in the Feather River watershed, which is huge and iis fed from Oroville Lake. Castaic Lake is the terminus of the State Water Project, from there it is shipped via a single pipe to Simi lake. There is a seismic risk. Delta levees are weak and temporary rock levees have been built. Seawater has reached back into some of the low areas. She again spoke of conjunctive use alternatives. Ms. Mulligan was a keynote speaker at Supervisor Bennett’s Desalination Forum recently.

To download the presentations, click here.

The Santa Clara River Watershed Committee may be visted on-line here where you can keep informed of future meetings.

For information about author, visit sherylhamlin dot com.

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One Response to Santa Clara River Watershed Committee Presents Regional Water Plans

  1. William Hicks February 28, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    If this represents the recent rains, Santa Clara would, under normal definition, be declared a creek. Hardly a major waterway.But I have to remind myself that this is Southern California.


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