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County gets 'incomplete' grade in annual water quality report

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  • Paul Jenkin
    http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2009/may/20/county-gets-incomplete-grade-in-annual-water/ County gets incomplete grade in annual water quality report
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2009

      County gets 'incomplete' grade in annual water quality report

      By Zeke Barlow , Kevin Clerici
      Wednesday, May 20, 2009

      Ventura County received an “incomplete” grade Wednesday on its annual
      water quality report from Heal the Bay because it stopped water
      testing last winter, but recent moves to resume the sampling should
      put the county back at the head of the class.

      Ventura has the dubious distinction of being the only Southern
      California county not testing its waters for bacteria and other
      pollutants after the state pulled the county’s funding. But tough new
      stormwater pollution rules for Ventura County were adopted this month,
      and funding now must be designated for weekly, year-round testing at
      10 locations along Ventura County’s shoreline.

      Once the testing starts in August, the county will likely continue to
      get the stellar grades it has in the past.

      “Based on historical data, Ventura has some of the best water quality
      in the state,” said Matt Grimmer, one of the authors of the Heal the
      Bay report. “We are concerned about the sampling and hope to see it
      resumed as soon as possible.”

      This year, the county got a 97 percent rating from Heal the Bay during
      the times when it did testing last summer. But because it stopped in
      the winter — when more pollutants are in the water after rain — the
      overall grade was an incomplete. And unlike in previous years when 53
      sites were being monitored, about half that many will be examined now.

      The sites where testing will resume include popular surfing hot spots
      at Rincon Beach near the county line separating Ventura and Santa
      Barbara counties; Surfers Point near the mouth of the Ventura River;
      Figueroa Street and Buenaventura State Beach near Ventura Pier; and
      Surfers Knoll near Ventura Harbor. Thousands flock to those locales
      every summer.

      In addition, the city of Oxnard — stepping in to cover state funding
      cuts — plans to test nine beach sites along Oxnard’s coastline every
      Friday morning throughout the summer, said Mark Pumford, a supervisor
      in Oxnard’s Wastewater Division.

      “We have to pick up the slack, and we’re prepared to do so,” Pumford

      Two other Oxnard beaches — Kiddie and Hobie — are sampled by the
      county Watershed Protection District under a separate program,

      Swimmers, however, should remain cautious.

      Until the state budget crisis devastated California’s beach monitoring
      programs, Ventura County monitored more than 50 beaches weekly, said
      Mark Gold, Heal the Bay’s executive director. Now it will be down to 10.

      Proponents point out water testing leads to public notices if high
      pollution or dangerous bacteria levels are found, protecting public

      Still, Gold praised the newest 10 sites requiring mandatory
      monitoring, describing them as “Ventura County’s most storm drain
      pollution-impacted beaches.”

      “The public health of swimmers and surfers will be better protected,”
      he said.

      The county plans to begin the weekly testing in early August, said
      county Public Works Director Jeff Pratt. A cost-sharing agreement
      still needs to be ironed out between the county government and all 10
      cities in the county that share the same stormwater permit adopted by
      the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, he said.

      He estimated the year-round expense at around $81,200 for testing and
      lab work.

      Bill Stratton, a manager at the county Environmental Health Division,
      said the county relied on about $160,000 in annual state funding for
      the testing program, which was mandated under Assembly Bill 411.

      That’s gone, and he’s not holding his breath about it coming back
      anytime soon.

      “It doesn’t look good,” he said.


      Paul Jenkin
      Surfrider Foundation - Ventura Campaign Coordinator
      805-648-4005 pjenkin@...

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