An estimated 485,000 cubic yards of material has been removed from the entrance channel and placed upon the beaches.
With recent winter storms and high tides events having severely eroded areas of the California coastline and Ventura Harbor scenic beaches over the past few months, the Ventura Harbor’s annual dredging activities have significantly contributed to overall beach restoration.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), working with the Manson Construction Company, began dredging operations in Ventura Harbor on March 11. An estimated 485,000 cubic yards of material was dredged from the federal channel and sand traps to ensure that the Harbor entrance remain safe to navigate year-round for boaters and commercial fisherman, while then redispersing the sand back onto the harbor beaches.
Ventura Harbor’s beaches including Surfer’s Knoll Beach, South Beach, and popular Harbor Cove Beach (or Mother’s Beach as the locals call it) on Spinnaker Drive, have now being largely replenished, allowing the beaches to reopen and be available to the community.
“Maintaining a safe, navigable, and resilient harbor is one of the key guiding principles of the Ventura Port District,” states Brian Pendleton, General Manager of the Ventura Port District. “This crucial sand replacement, as a result of the dredging, also serves as an enormous benefit to residents, surfers, beach goers, and to wildlife, as the sand dunes and beaches provide critical nesting habitat for endangered species such as the Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern.”
The Corps pays for the annual Ventura Harbor entrance channel dredging activities.
In August 1968, the U.S. Congress approved Public Law 90-483, which among other things had the U.S. government acting through the Corps, assuming the maintenance responsibility for the navigation features at Ventura Harbor, subject to annual appropriations by the President and/or Congress. The features that the Corps is responsible to maintain include:
- The Entrance Channel
- Sand Trap
- 3 Jetties
- An offshore breakwater
- A groin
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, frequent navigation problems resulting from shoaling at the harbor entrance developed due to a lack of Congressional funding. In 1983, the Port District recognized the need to communicate more effectively with the Congress and the Corps and retained the services of a Washington advocate. Since that time, over $140 Million has been expended by the Corps in maintaining and improving the harbor entrance system.
The President’s 2024 Budget was released on March 9, 2023 and named the Ventura Harbor project for $8.471 million.
“With the support of Congress and the Senate, this will ensure that dredging will be completed again in early 2024 and provide additional funding for the Corps to update environmental studies and issue a new contract later in 2024,” states Todd Mitchell, Senior Business Operations Manager for the Ventura Port District. “We are enormously grateful for the efforts of Congressman Salud Carbajal and Congresswoman Julia Brownley to advocate for the President funding project in his 2024 budget.”
The District is responsible for permitting, funding, and contracting periodic dredging of the inner harbor (excluding the Ventura Keys). Performance of the dredging requires the District to maintain its own permits with the Corps, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Ventura County Air Quality Control Board, and the California Coastal Commission. The District’s permits not only allow for inner harbor dredging, but also to replicate the work conducted by the Corps in the event that there was an emergency and the work had to be performed by the District.
Because the inner harbor soil is primarily fine grain (silt), three of the District’s permits for inner harbor dredging have special conditions that require the Santa Clara river be flowing into the ocean in order for material placement to take place. In 2021 when navigating into channel into the Keys became a concern, the river condition was not met and the District and City of Ventura had to obtain emergency permits in order to perform the inner harbor dredging. Therefore, the District has been pursuing amendments to these permits so that inner harbor dredging can be performed when needed.
For more details on annual dredging activities in Ventura Harbor or information on Ventura Harbor beaches visit VentruaHarbor.com