As the Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Watershed Protection District renames two industrial drains, questions about the cleanliness of the water that flows through the channels and into the fields and beyond have come to the forefront.
The drains formerly known as the J Street Drain and the Oxnard Industrial Drain, now known as the Tšumaš (Chumash) Creek and Ormond Lagoon Waterway, respectively, have been part of an effort by the Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper program to address trash, bacteria and other pollutant issues since 2010, when a study was released by the Foundation citing several areas of concern as monitored over a period between June 2009 and August 2010. The names were chosen by popular vote via an online survey in May.
The study found that both the J Street Drain and the Oxnard Industrial Drain exceeded the “numeric target for trash” as outlined by the Los Angeles River Trash total maximum daily loads, the total amount of a specific pollutant allowed in specific bodies of water.
Also in the study, in the Oxnard Industrial Drain: five out of 11 monitoring events found that E. coli levels exceeded water quality standards; six out of seven monitoring events found the pH level exceeded the water quality standard; and eight out of eight monitoring events found nitrate levels exceeded numeric targets.
Since 2010, says Jason Weiner, general counsel and water initiative director at the Wishtoyo Foundation, the outlook hasn’t changed.
“In 2010 and 2011, the county and the city of Oxnard at least began cleaning trash out of the Oxnard Drain and Ormond Beach Wetlands and installing devices to collect and prevent trash from flowing to the Ormond Beach Lagoon. To our disappointment these efforts have tapered off,” said Weiner in a statement.
Coastkeeper has submitted a Clean Water 303 (d) letter to the State Water Resources Control Board asking that the Chumash Creek and Ormond Lagoon Waterway, as well as 10 other areas, be added to the Clean Water Act list of impaired waterbodies, which would require imposing a total maximum daily load on the waterways and would list them as priority for cleanup efforts.
Zoe Carlson, environmental planner with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, Watershed Protection District, says that keeping the waterways clean has been a challenge.
“It has been a challenge for these particular channels, to a larger extent than in other areas,” said Carlson. “We’re definitely not walking away from either facility. There’s a project for Chumash Creek which the Watershed Protection District is working on with the city to actually create a linear park and covered portion for that channel so that it prevents trash from getting in to that channel and also benefits the community so that they can enjoy that space.”
The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2016 Integrated Report is expected to address the Los Angeles region, which includes Ventura County.