An organized effort by the Channel Islands Neighborhood Council and CIYC filed letters with the Water Quality Control Board (WQCB) urging that the NRG permit for final closure of the plant include conditions for continuous monitoring of the water quality and the development of a mitigation plan. Heal the Bay also supported this effort with a letter. Sara Wan, HBCA’s coastal expert, consulted on the issue. Rocco Belmonte reports that a formal petition filing is planned after September 13 though it is unlikely that the WQCB will be able to require these restrictions since the original permits have already been granted.
Representatives from the harbor HOAs, the CI Neighborhood Council and the Harbor & Beach Community Alliance met with the new Oxnard City Manager, Alexander Nguyen, regarding the water quality and other issues concerning the harbor community. The City offered support such as water quality monitoring but stated this was not an issue the City could resolve alone.
Belmonte reports that over the past several weeks, they have learned the following about about the harbor and its water quality:
The main threat to harbor water quality is an Algae bloom that depletes the oxygen level in the water. This bloom is caused by three factors:
- Nutrients in the water – e.g. from storm drain runoff
- Water temperature – this has been higher than normal this summer
- Water residence time – (time the water sits in the harbor before it is refreshed by new ocean water) a 2003 study estimated this was approximately 18 days naturally, with the power plant running, it was estimated to be 12 days
The 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City and County specified recirculating pumps on the north end (Seabridge) of the harbor at the time of the plant closure. However, the pumps were not clearly defined and the installed pump vault has been found inadequate. The City has installed a pump and seven aerators, but their impact is undetermined as of this article. The City also plans to install a few aerators near the entrance of the canal. The City indicates that the dissolved oxygen levels have improved, but the reason is unclear other than natural causes.
An organized group of volunteers will continue to seek a solution to the on-going issue of harbor water quality. This includes meeting with hydraulics engineering firms and other experts to identify long-term solutions and mitigation plans. This will require funds to be raised from harbor residents.
Rene Aiu, HBCA
Contributor Rocco Belmonte, Update on Harbor Water Quality