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City of San Buenaventura Santa Clara River Estuary Studies

City of San Buenaventura Santa Clara River Estuary Studies

The Santa Clara River estuary during the January 2005 flood.  Photo: California State Coastal Conservancy.

The City of San Buenaventura (City; also known as Ventura) owns and operates the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility (VWRF), which currently discharges up to 9 million gallons per day of tertiary-treated wastewater to the Santa Clara River Estuary (Estuary) under waste discharge requirements contained in Order No. 00-143, adopted by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region (Regional Board), on October 12, 2000 (NPDES Permit No. CA0053651).

Although the VWRF has been discharging to the Estuary for approximately 45 years, the discharge is in conflict with the State Water Resources Control Board’s Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (Resolution No. 74-43, 1974), which mandates that the discharge of municipal and industrial wastewaters to enclosed bays and estuaries be phased out. Exceptions to this policy are limited to circumstances in which the Regional Board finds that the treated wastewater enhances the quality of receiving waters above that which would occur in the absence of the discharge.

In May 1977, such an exemption was granted to the City on the basis that the VWRF’s discharge enhanced fish and wildlife habitat and non-contact water recreation. However, more recent information regarding the relationship of the discharge to the ecological function of the Estuary is generally lacking.  Consequently, as part of the renewal process for the next permit cycle, the Regional Board requested that the City provide an updated evaluation of the extent to which the discharge enhances beneficial uses in the Estuary.

In response to the Regional Board’s request, the City has undertaken several biological and environmental studies of the Estuary to characterize the impacts of effluent discharged into the Estuary, and identify ways in which the discharge enhances beneficial uses.  The studies have been completed and submitted to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board for their use. Additional information related to this project is available through the contact provided below.

Project Type: Baseline
Status: Complete (completed in January 2006)

Aquatic Bioassay and Consulting Laboratories (2004).
Santa Clara River Estuary Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment Monitoring. Annual Report 2003
Prepared for the City of San Buenaventura, Ventura, California.

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