Seawater Farming to Solve Oxnard Harbor’s Brown Water Problem (Farming without fresh water)

Two local firms have teamed up to solve Oxnard Harbor’s brown water problem using a new and innovative solution. The firms are Hasan Consultants, a nationally recognized civil, environmental and transportation engineering company, and OceanForesters, retained by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Project Agency for designing multi-product aquaculture ecosystems. The innovative solution is seawater farming on existing land farms in the proximity to the harbor.

OceanForesters is designing aquatic forest ecosystems that produce finfish, shellfish, mollusks, and kelp with no waste products – like nature.  Mark Capron, OceanForesters president, considers the potential of seawater farming is tremendous. He says, “Farming fish on land can help ultimately feed the world.  OceanForesters expects more marine ecosystems in the oceans and on land as human population increases.”

Mohammed A. Hasan, principal of Hasan Consultants and author of a book on solving California’s drought, is bullish on the project, adding, “This is a perfect example of the kind of out-of-box thinking needed to address long-term drought.” Water resource advocates and farmers know that Ventura County, especially its farmers, could run out of fresh water with drought piling on top of seawater intrusion.  The retirement of the Mandalay Beach power plant provides an opportunity to effectively “create” more fresh water while maintaining economically productive farms (farmers not using the fresh water could sell or trade to others). Farmers closest to the ocean (like the farms in the attached picture) would also be the first affected by seawater intrusion. Farmers near the cooling water channel could switch from farming with fresh water to farming with seawater. 

The farm would still look like a farm only changed from furrows to lined ponds.  (No exporting or importing soil.  No seawater leaks into the soil.)  Possible products include: mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, kelp, macroalgae that tastes like bacon or macroalgae that reduces cattle methane, lobsters, abalone, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and finfish.  Some, like mussels and penned finfish, are planted and harvested in traditional ways.  More valuable products are made from low value products: abalone and sea urchins eat macroalgae, lobsters eat sea urchins.  OceanForesters’ design would arrange the products so that there are no wastes.  The water from the channel would have the same or better clarity and color than the seawater taken from the channel.

Details of the project and a picture/map of the harbor area and Edison channel: Oxnard aquaculture champions Jun27-18

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William Levey
William Levey
2 years ago

Great, when?