LocalNews Briefs

Ventura Harbor’s Annual Dredging Contributes to Overall Beach Renourishment

VENTURA— With recent winter storms and high tide events having severely eroded areas of the California coastline and Ventura Harbor scenic beaches over the past few months, Ventura Harbor’s annual dredging activities have significantly contributed to overall beach restoration.

The U.S. 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 the Harbor entrance remained safe for boaters and commercial fishermen year-round while 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 been 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, beachgoers, and 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 for maintaining include:

1. The Entrance Channel

2. Sand Traps

3. 3 Jetties

4. An offshore breakwater

5. A groin

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, 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 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 the Ventura Harbor project was named 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 truly 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 permits, funds, and contracts periodic inner harbor dredging (excluding the Ventura Keys). Performance of the dredging requires the District to maintain its 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 if there was an emergency and the work had to be performed by the District.

Because the inner harbor soil is primarily a fine grain (silt), three of the District’s permits for inner harbor dredging have special conditions that require the Santa Clara River to be flowing into the ocean for material placement to take place. Unfortunately, in 2021 when navigating into the 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 to perform the inner harbor dredging. Therefore, the District has been pursuing amendments to these permits to achieve inner harbor dredging when needed.

For more details on annual dredging activities in Ventura Harbor or information on Ventura Harbor beaches, visit www.VenturaHarbor.com

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