After a decade of disagreement about the impacts of sewage treatment plant discharges to the Santa Clara River estuary, the city of Ventura and environmental groups Ventura Coastkeeper, the Wishtoyo Foundation and Heal the Bay today jointly announced a settlement agreement to protect the estuary while increasing local water recycling.
The Santa Clara River estuary is the terminus of one of Southern California’s largest and most productive river systems. The area is also home to the endangered southern steelhead trout and tidewater goby. The agreement will end the last direct sewage discharge to an estuary in California.
The settlement will result in at least a 50% reduction (approximately 4-5 million gallons a day) and up to a 100% reduction (8-10 million gallons per day) in treated sewage discharges to the estuary. This tertiary-treated effluent (filtered and disinfected) will be recycled locally for irrigation and other non-potable uses. The water that doesn’t get recycled will be discharged to a treatment wetland that will further cleanse the treated wastewater. Then, the water will flow through the wetland before being discharged to the estuary.