Protecting Ventura’s waterways

The City has installed 270 trash excluders.

by City Staff

One of the many reasons we enjoy living in Ventura is the natural beauty surrounding our community – ours is the only coastal city in the county also flanked by two rivers, the Santa Clara River and the Ventura River.  Ensuring that these fragile natural areas are protected from pollution is important because it impacts our environment and water quality.

One of the biggest threats to water quality is urban runoff that is caused by rain, excessive sprinkler spray and water from car washing that runs down the street. This runoff typically carries bacteria, metal, cigarette butts, motor oil residue, pesticides and pet waste that gets washed into storm drains and carried into our oceans, rivers, and local groundwater without any treatment.

Storm drains are designed to prevent area flooding by conveying rainwater to local rivers and the ocean.  In the city of Ventura, we have an aging storm drain system that, in some locations, is made of corrugated metal pipes installed in the 1930’s.  Modern storm drain lines are made of concrete or high-density plastic pipes which last longer and require less maintenance.  Storm drains that lack drainage capacity due to inadequate size or necessary infrastructure repair and maintenance leave us vulnerable during high intensity rain events causing flooding problems.  Ongoing maintenance and replacement of the existing infrastructure is required to keep a safe and viable system.

Storm drains are the only public utility for which the City has no identified funding for construction, maintenance and repair, and capital improvement projects. They are paid from the General Fund (the same fund that pays for police, fire, parks, programs for seniors and youth, and other critical services.)

To help improve our water quality, the City has installed 270 trash excluders (steel mesh cages) citywide in high trash generating catch basins to help capture debris that would otherwise flow to the ocean.  Additionally, during dry weather, three urban runoff diversion devices along the promenade divert flows to the wastewater plant for treatment to reduce bacteria levels in the ocean throughout the summer months.

The new Green Street project located on Hartman Drive in Midtown is a perfect example of another way the City can protect our water and reduce the amount of pollutants from entering Ventura’s rivers and streams. The Green Street also helps recharge our groundwater by absorbing the runoff through bio-retention cells where drought-resistant trees and shrubs are planted. This capture and filter process is especially important because one-third of Ventura’s drinking water supply comes from groundwater.  With more funding, the City could do more projects like this.

As a community that relies 100% on three local water resources – the Ventura River, Lake Casitas and local groundwater wells – improving the health of our waterways is vital.  While our storm drain infrastructure is aging and maintenance needs are growing, we will continue to provide the best service possible within limited resources to protect our waterways.

To learn about environmental and water saving programs offered by the City of Ventura, visit www.cityofventura.net/es and www.cityofventura.net/waterwise/incentiveprogram.

 

 

 

 

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