We've been watching the debate about the Matilija Dam removal for years. Here's an update posted from Surfrider about our what's happening in our backyard.
Surfrider Foundation's Ventura County Chapter and our partners in the Matilija Coalition have been working since 2000 to develop a plan to remove the obsolete, non-functional Matilija Dam from the Ventura River. Removal of the dam will be the first step in recovery of the bioregion. Two of the significant benefits of dam removal will be recovery of the Southern Steelhead trout and restoration of the natural sediment supply to the beaches of Ventura. Although the benefits of dam removal are widely recognized, gaining consensus on a removal plan and securing funding for the work has been challenging.
On March 17, 2016, the Matilija Dam "Design Oversight Group" met to determine consensus around one of the three alternatives and how to move the project forward. Following a long discussion, the issue was put to a vote. The result was almost unanimously (95%) in favor of Dam Removal Concept 2, which is inelegantly titled "Uncontrolled Orifices with Optional Gates." What it actually consists of is to simply blow holes in the base of the dam! This solves the long-standing question of how to deal with the silt trapped upstream. The group collectively decided to save millions of dollars by letting the river do the work. Based on experience with Condit Dam in Washington, experts determined that a single flood can flush the fine sediments from behind the dam straight out to the ocean. This vote included the local water districts, the City of Ventura, resource agencies including NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service, State Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, as well as Matilija Coalition member organizations.