Public Works Director Tully Clifford, City of Ventura

Public Works Director Tully Clifford answers our questions.
Public Works Director Tully Clifford answers our questions.

What challenges does the City face in protecting Ventura’s rivers, beaches and coastline?

Maintaining Ventura’s beautiful coastline is critical to our economy and quality of life. Our beaches are precious, yet vulnerable, resources that we must protect.

The City of Ventura faces many expensive and complex challenges in keeping our beaches clean and our ocean free of pollution.

As a city that relies 100% on local water resources, water quality is a top priority and as a coastal community we share the cost of cleaning up litter dumped in riverbeds or washed downstream from neighboring inland communities. One of the biggest threats to our water quality is urban runoff that carries bacteria, metal, cigarette butts, motor oil residue, pesticides and pet waste into storm drains that flow into our oceans, rivers and local groundwater without any treatment.

Shoring up our aging storm drain systems is expensive and challenging as there is no utility revenue stream dedicated to this critical infrastructure. That work must be paid for with general fund dollars—dollars also needed to fund police, fire, parks, programs for seniors and youth and other critical services.

Our beachfront Promenade is a major attraction and an integral part of our city.  It serves as a popular pedestrian corridor along the coast and has protected property along the beachfront from erosion.  Built more than 40 years ago, the Promenade requires ongoing repair and investment to maintain it for future generations.

The coastline is also home to the historic Ventura Pier. Originally constructed in 1872, the Pier is the hallmark of our city and a symbol of the region’s rich history and natural resources.   Like the rest of our City’s aging infrastructure, the Pier presents expensive challenges. Last winter, 20-foot high surf, caused damages costing $1.5 million to repair. High surf also erodes the shoreline and Promenade.

Last winter severe wave erosion caused the loss of sand and beach threatening the trees, bike path and promenade. To balance the protection of public improvements with impact to the beach in a way that’s least harmful to the beach, the city provided shoreline protection through an emergency revetment repair project costing $400,000.

The first phase of the Surfers’ Point managed retreat project, completed in 2011, has provided a natural “barrier” from shoreline erosion, in addition to an improved storm drain system, new bike path and parking area. Future phases of the project will be built when additional funding becomes available.

We are a community that treasures our beaches and coastline.  We must decide if we also are a community that will rise to the challenge of protecting this beautiful natural resource and all of the pride it brings to our city.

Learn more at www.cityofventura.net/water/stormwater.

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