Ventura County

Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration

The Ventura River flows over Matilija Dam in March 2018. Photo credit: Paul Jenkin.

The Matilija Dam is obsolete. Instead of storing water, it is storing sediments that would normally replenish our beaches. In addition, the endangered Southern Steelhead Trout has been unable to access historic prime breeding areas for over 50 years.

Ventura County Surfrider is a member of The Matilija Coalition, the primary community advocate for restoration of the upper Ventura River. Our main focus is a public outreach campaign to gain local, state, and national support for a multi-agency dam removal effort. Our strategy is to build the Coalition by linking government, science, and the community through a diversity of programs and activities, including direct participation in the decision-making process.

The question is not “Will the dam come down?” Its condition makes that a certainty; the dam will come down, sooner or later. Our goal is to bring it down quickly, safely, and in a manner that is good for the river, the community, and the beaches.

Current status: Contractors have begun field work in the reservoir upstream of Matilija Dam. A barge-mounted drilling rig is being used to sample the sediments trapped by the dam. Additional core samples will be collected from the dam itself, in order to assess the current state of the concrete and provide data for the structural analysis of the dam removal project.  These field studies are the first tasks in the Matilija Dam Removal 65% Planning Design Project funded by the $3.3M California Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposition 1 Grant received in May 2017.

For more information: Check out Paul Jenkin’s blog, Ventura River Ecosystem, which has detailed descriptions of the slow road to a freer Ventura River.