Ventura River

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Ventura River
Country United States
State California
 - left Ojai Creek, San Antonio Creek (Ventura River)
 - right Matilija Creek, Coyote Creek
Source Santa Ynez Mountains
 - location Confluence of Matilija Creek and North Fork Matilija Creek, near Ojai
 - elevation 915 ft (279 m)
 - coordinates 34°29′07″N 119°18′02″W / 34.48528°N 119.30056°W / 34.48528; -119.30056 [1]
Mouth Pacific Ocean
 - location Emma Wood State Beach, near Ventura
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 34°16′32″N 119°18′28″W / 34.27556°N 119.30778°W / 34.27556; -119.30778Coordinates: 34°16′32″N 119°18′28″W / 34.27556°N 119.30778°W / 34.27556; -119.30778 [1]
Length 16.5 mi (27 km) [2]
Basin 227 sq mi (588 km2) [3]
Discharge for near Ventura
 - average 72.6 cu ft/s (2 m3/s) [4]
 - max 63,600 cu ft/s (1,801 m3/s)
 - min 0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)

The Ventura River is a river in Ventura County, California characterized by a narrow valley with steeply sloped sides.[5] The river forms at the confluence of Matilija Creek and North Fork Matilija Creek, 16.5 miles (26.6 km)[2] upstream from the Pacific Ocean. San Antonio Creek joins the river halfway to the ocean and Coyote Creek does the same a couple of miles downstream.


Genetic analysis of the steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Ventura river watershed (both above and below Matilija Dam) has shown them to be of native and not hatchery stocks.[6] In 1997 the Ventura River steelhead, part of the Southern California Steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS) were listed as federally endangered.[7]


The flow of the Ventura River and its tributary Coyote Creek have been reduced by the completion of Casitas Dam, which forms Casitas Reservoir. The dam is on Coyote Creek about 2 miles upstream of the junction with the Ventura River. The Robles Diversion Dam was constructed on the Ventura River in 1958 to divert up to 107,800 acre-feet of water per year through a four-and-a-half mile canal to Casitas Reservoir.[8] About 40% of the total water in Lake Casitas is supplied from high winter flows in the Ventura River. Casitas Municipal Water District sells water to both domestic and agricultural customers.

The Matilija Creek tributary is also dammed, by Matilija Dam. Completed in 1948, it was built to store 7,000 acre feet (8,600,000 m3) of water, but sediment has reduced its capacity by 90%. Many groups, including some governmental ones, are working towards the removal of the dam. On November 8, 2007, the 110th Congress overturned President Bush's veto of a bill delegating approximately $89.7M to the project.

Recreation, restoration, and preservation[edit]

The Ventura River Parkway Trail was built on a historic railroad spur (CA_VEN-1109H) constructed by the Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad in 1898 and acquired by Southern Pacific in 1899.[9] In 2014, the trail, that runs along the easterly bank of the river, was designated a National Recreation Trail.[10]

State Route 33 also roughly parallels the river through the Ventura River Valley. A portion of SR 33, north of the SR 150, is officially designated as a state scenic highway and the entire Ventura River Valley section is eligible for the designation.[11]

Camping in the Ventura River bottom, which is dry most of the year, was outlawed by the Ventura City Council in 1995 after floods killed one man and prompted the evacuation of 12 other people near the Main Street bridge.[12]

Environmental Protection Agency became involved in August of 2012 with the USA/Petrochem petroleum refinery which is situated within the 100-year floodplain of the Ventura River. The EPA determined there had been discharge to navigable waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act. Their site assessment found that there were numerous leaking pipelines, leaking tanks and leaking production vessels throughout the property. They issued an order that the site must be cleaned up or daily fines would be sought from the owner. The site was also out of compliance with Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board’s Ventura River Estuary Trash Total Maximum Daily Load. The main problem was the encampments built by homeless people along the banks of the river which is part of the same parcel of land.[13] The site owner in 2015 agreed to remove all machinery and equipment which would complete the cleanup of the plant that closed around 1985.[14]

The Ventura River Watershed Council, that includes government agencies, nonprofit groups, businesses, community groups and individuals, prepared a watershed management plan. Approved in 2015, this comprehensive plan proposed ways to improve the health and sustainability of the watershed.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ventura River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 16, 2011
  3. ^ "Our Watershed". Ventura River Watershed Council. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  4. ^ "USGS Gage #11118501 Ventura River and Ventura City Diversion near Ventura, CA" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1933–2007. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  5. ^ Rincon Consultants, Inc. (June 2014) "Olivas Park Drive Extension Project Final Environmental Impact Report SCH # 1995081004" City of Ventura
  6. ^ Anthony J. Clemento, Eric C. Anderson, David Boughton, Derek Girman, John Carlos Garza (2009). "Population genetic structure and ancestry of Oncorhynchus mykiss populations above and below dams in south-central California" (PDF). Conservation Genetics: 1321–1336. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  7. ^ NOAA/NMFS (1997-08-18). "Endangered and Threatened Species: Listing of Several Evolutionary Significant Units (ESUs) of West Coast Steelhead" (PDF). Federal Register. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  8. ^ "Robles Dam". U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  9. ^ MacGregor, Hilary E. (September 18, 1996). "In Search of the Missing Link". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Kallas, Anne (June 7, 2014) "On the path to restoring the river: Trail in county gets designation from government" Ventura County Star (subscription may be required for this article.
  11. ^ CA Codes (shc:263.3)
  12. ^ McDonald, Jeff (July 09, 1995) "Ventura River Area Gets a 2nd Chance : Environment: Ambitious $754,000 cleanup plan calls for clearing site of harmful invasive vegetation, renewing trails and diverting flood-control channels." Los Angeles Times
  13. ^ Sullivan, Michael (02/14/2013) "EPA orders cleanup at USA Petrochem site" Ventura County Reporter
  14. ^ Wilson, Kathleen (January 29, 2015) "Long-closed refinery expected to be cleaned up by year end" Ventura County Star
  15. ^ staff (March 19, 2015) "Group releases Ventura River watershed management plan" Ventura County Star

External links[edit]