On behalf of Rose Foundation, Blue Tomorrow performed environmental sampling and a watershed assessment of five coastal watersheds in northern Ventura County. Both the Executive Summary and the Final Report are now available!
The Northern Ventura County Coastal Watershed Project (NVCCWP) assessed water quality and identified potential sources, pathways, receptors, and toxicity of pollutants detected in samples from Madriano, Javon, Padre Juan, Line, and Amphitheater Canyons. From October 2013 through April 2014, water and sediment samples were collected from each canyon to characterize water quality and inform strategies to mitigate impacts from pollutants being discharged from the watersheds.
These five coastal watersheds drain the Rincon and San Miguelito oil fields, which are upstream of residential communities, popular beaches, and coastal habitat. Each year, over 140,000 people visit campgrounds and 570,000 go to beaches downstream or adjacent to the watershed outlets. The watersheds discharge into coastal waters, which are home to kelp forests, marine mammals, fish, and bird species. The Rincon and San Miguelito oil fields have been in production since the early 20th century, and over 400 wells have been drilled in the watersheds. Water and sediment samples were analyzed for a wide range of pollutants including metals, diesel and residual range organics (DRO & RRO), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and other organic compounds and hydrocarbons of concern to public health and the environment. Various beneficial uses are designated for these watersheds, including the potential to be used for municipal and domestic water supply. Children live adjacent to (and play in) these stream channels, and during the study people were observed swimming in the effluent from the watersheds and walking barefoot up the creeks. Exposure to pollutants through dermal contact, ingestion, or inhalation can increase the likelihood of adverse health effects including cancer.
The report identifies mitigation strategies focusing on erosion control in the study watersheds, because erosion has been linked to the mobilization and transport of toxic heavy metals such as those that are naturally occurring in the geology of the area, and the transport of organic compounds and PAHs likely originating from well pads and oil field operations. Proposed mitigation measures include specific Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stream rehabilitations, on-the-ground investigation of road erosion and sediment sources, permitting of large oil field construction activities, and other BMPs that should be incorporated into the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the oil fields.