The City of San Buenaventura (City) filed its amended cross-complaint in the Ventura River litigation brought by Santa Barbara Channelkeeper (Channelkeeper) against the City and the State Water Resources Control Board. The City did not start this case but it has no choice but to defend itself. The City’s filing brings into the litigation all water users in the Ventura River Watershed.
In the litigation, Channelkeeper singled out the City’s use of the Ventura River, even though there are many other water users in the Watershed. The California Court of Appeal agreed with the City in a ruling earlier this year that it could bring in other users given that Channelkeeper’s claims could impact the City’s long-held rights to Ventura River water.
The City is bringing in all water users in order to protect its water rights and to ensure that everyone is part of the solution in the event that cutbacks are needed for sensitive species and habitat. Legally, in order to determine water users’ respective rights, all users must be parties to the same lawsuit. For this reason, the City named many cross-defendants. This is not a step that was taken lightly and only because it is to protect the City’s ability to serve its community.
The City is committed to environmental sustainability and will continue being a good steward of its local water resources. The City believes that all water interests, City residents, other water users, and environmental needs, must cooperate and compromise in using and preserving this precious resource. The City wants to be pro-active and is working to develop solutions to the competing interests in the Ventura River Watershed. The City would prefer to resolve these issues without litigation, and recognizes that only by all interests working together can we resolve these critical challenges.
Background on the City of Ventura’s Ventura River water supply
One of Ventura’s key water supplies is provided from the Ventura River at Foster Park. Water from the Ventura River is diverted through the City’s Foster Park facilities and treated at the City’s Avenue Water Treatment Plant. The extraction facilities include a subsurface intake and three shallow wells within the Ventura River riparian corridor. The City has maintained water rights on the Ventura River for more than a century.