Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tempers Rise As Dam Plans Revealed

50 neighbors downriver from Matilija Dam come out to express fears, concerns about project

By Sondra Murphy
Demolishing Matilija Dam is the easy part. The hard part is deciding where to put the enormous amount of silt and sediments built up behind the dam.
The county invited residents of one neighborhood impacted by the project to a meeting Wednesday at Nordhoff High School to discuss this and other issues.
The Ventura County Watershed Protection District is working with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to remove the dam. The dam has been a barrier between endangered southern steelhead trout and their historic spawning grounds since it was built 60 years ago as a flood-control project.
According to a feasibility study conducted by the Corps of Engineers in 2004, demolition is expected to occur sometime between 2010 and 2012 and will cost, including silt removal, more than $100 million.
Plans to construct a levee west of the properties on Oso Road, as well as a high-flow bypass for the Robles Diversion, were detailed by Ventura County Watershed Protection District’s Peter Sheydayi. He also addressed one of four potential storage sites for silt south of Meyer Road. About 50 people attended.
Also at the meeting were Doug Chitwood of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, project manager Darrell Buxton, environmental services manager Pam Lindsey, and Keith Filegar of the county’s Real Estate Services Division.
Several representatives of various water districts were in attendance, as well.
Conspicuously absent was County Supervisor Steve Bennett, whose valleywide disaster drill was taking place at the same time as the meeting, a scheduling blunder criticized by resident Jodi Heath.
Relocating the removed sediment in the amount of 2 to 6 million cubic yards will be no mean feat. The people who attended the meeting apprehensively sat through the first half hour of slide show presentation reviewing the history of the dam and asked a few questions as the anxiety among them grew more vocal. Besides doubt that the levee, planned to be built south of Meyer Road near the Ventura River trailhead, would serve to protect their community from flooding, several people expressed concern that the levee would, instead, increase the dangers of flooding to their homes and properties by changing the contours of the river bed.
Many were also angry that the project’s 23 participating agencies were now considering their river bottom neighborhood as a disposal area, something that was not addressed in a 2006 public meeting. Previous information indicated that an area near the Baldwin Road bridge would be the disposal site. That zone is still on the list of possibilities, as well as two others downstream near Foster Park.
Still in the design phase, the project also includes flow bypass pipes to move slurry from the dam area and around populated areas to rejoin the river. “Any features that involve construction, involve noise,” said Sheydayi. Several people questioned the odor factor during the process, but no answer was given.
Heath and others also asked about the truck traffic route for delivering dam materials into the proposed disposal site. “It hasn’t been decided yet,” answered Sheydayi, “but probably down Meyer Road … Right now, we’re working with Casitas as to where the route will be. A portion is on federal land and a portion is on OVLC land and a portion is on privately owned land.” Church of the Living Christ largely owns that private property. During the 2006 meeting, project coordinators mistakenly thought the property belonged to the Land Conservancy and so had ruled out the area for disposal.
After the meeting, resident Bob Collins summed up what others had voiced during the two-hour discussion. “They wanted to find a cheap place to dump the stuff,” he said. “They should take that silt and spread it thin. In my 50 years of construction, I’ve never seen it done like this. There are certain fundamental understandings in the industry we just don’t do and we don’t dump trash on people’s property.”
Well safety in the project area was also questioned, but none of the agency representatives had information about exact locations. “There are at least six to eight wells down there and they don’t know where they are,” complained resident Warren Davis.
As the meeting progressed, conversations overlapped, Tempers flared and no one expressed support for the project. Sheydayi informed the crowd that there would be a design oversight meeting on Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. at the VCWPD offices in their Saticoy conference room at 11251 B Riverbank Drive. “Obviously, everybody down river is going to have their own perspective and at those design meetings we will decide what criteria we will use to decide which disposal site to use,” Sheydayi said. For more details, go to matilijadam.org.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The residents of that neighborhood on Oso road really expect too much. You cannot effectively live in the riverbed and expect to be safe.

Anonymous said...

But you can expect to live in the riverbed and not have other humans make you even less safe that you already are.

Anonymous said...

Enough time has passed the dam is long overdue to be gone. Does it take an airplane flying in it to get this done?

Anonymous said...

That's a great idea. Why don't you fly it?

Anonymous said...

only if you will be my co pilot

James Hatch said...

It's time for a reality check. Let's face it, all of the planning and preparation are overkill. If I were in charge, I would remove it this way:

1. Buy out the landowners via eminent domain on Matilija Hot Springs Road. That would be about 1.5 million.

2. Dynamite the dam in a series of explosions. The concrete would be blown into littler and littler pieces and spread down river to Camino Cielo. The silt would wash out naturally over time.

Cost of land below the dam: 1.5 millioin. Cost of the dynamite and crew: 1.5 million. Cost of the ingenious plan of James Hatch that saves taxpayers millions upon millions? Priceless.

Anonymous said...

I have never read such garbage as what James Hatch has to write. These projects are won and lost in the planning and preparations stage.

Let's spend every cent we can to ensure that these engineers have studied and studied and overstudied the feasibility of the dam removal.

I prefer to pay these engineers millions than to hastily remove it.

Anonymous said...

Shut up you liberal whiner

Anonymous said...

Does blogging as we know it actually solve any problems, or does it simply allow the blog owner to say "My blog gets 100,000 hits a month, blah blah blah, I'm such a relevant force in the community, blah blah blah, me me me, etc, etc."?

Almost every thread on every blog, including the local Ojai Valley blogs, eventually breaks down into a mosh pit full of people with borderline personality disorders bashing away at each other and saying things they'd never say to another person if they ran into that person at the Post Office or Starr Market.

Are the owners of these blogs actually proud to have their names associated with what goes on at their blogs? (I know that Bret hates anonymity, but anonymity does not preclude thoughtfulness, civility, and intelligence.) Do the owners of these blogs ever wonder why the majority of people are unwilling to use their real names at these blogs, or why respected and respectable people rarely, if ever, comment on any of the local blogs? Who would want to be publicly associated with this kind of behavior? Who would want to appear to be supporting it? Who would be arrogant enough to believe that their presence would somehow cast enough light to drive away the trolls?

As far as I can tell, most blogs are nothing more than the online equivalent of bars where the bored and the disaffected go to get drunk and start fights. When you say these words about almost any blog you are speaking the truth: "Move along, now. Nothing to see here. Go on. Move along."

Anonymous said...

That's why you are hear reading and posting. So just move along, there's nothing to see hear.

Anonymous said...

"Here"

Anonymous said...

Whatever you jerk.

town keeper said...

Tempers rise as blog plan is revealed

town keeper said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080923/ap_on_fe_st/odd_nude_skater

Construction workers complain about nude skater guess who made front page news?

Painted Hand Farm said...

Reality check, folks. Look at the price of fuel. The river bottom on Oso Road is much closer than any of the other proposed sites. Home values on Oso Road are also less than that of those in the Baldwin area, so you lose again. Yes, Foster Park home values are probably the lowest of all sites, but they are also the furthest. Face it, your neighborhood is about to become a giant sand box.

Anonymous said...

Whatever. Just dynamite the thing and everyone downstream will get their fare share of silt.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

what do you mean when you say watch out I phone? Is this a virus going around?