Ventura River Watershed Adjudication

Statement from the City of Ventura

In January 2020, several thousand residents of the City of Ventura and surrounding areas received legal notices as a result of the current settlement discussions the City is participating in with other large water users, as part of a collaborative approach to maintaining local control of the watershed.

The City acknowledges its responsibility in not facilitating clearer communication about the current legal proceedings and, in an effort to provide more transparent, accurate and current information, has developed this website as a resource for those impacted and those seeking additional information and answers.

About the Watershed

The Ventura River Watershed supplies water to the many agricultural users, businesses, individuals, water districts and cities that depend on it. Today, however, the watershed is at risk. As a result of changing climate conditions and prolonged periods of drought, the watershed’s resources are consistently being stretched to capacity. It’s a serious challenge that requires timely action.

In order to safeguard this valuable water supply, the City of Ventura’s objective is to establish a collaborative, court-approved agreement (called a “physical solution”) that takes into account all the watershed’s interests. With this in mind, the City has been in discussion with the region’s largest agricultural and municipal water users, who are all in agreement that a new approach is needed to manage the Ventura River Watershed.

As part of this process, there are several required legal steps that the City must take, including notifying all potentially impacted users of the Ventura River Watershed of their involvement in this process. These steps, as required by the court, are an essential part of achieving a solution to safeguard the Watershed and its resources.

Timeline

2014: Channelkeeper sues the City and the State regarding Ventura River Steelhead population preservation. 2015: The City attempts to cross-complain to bring other large water users together to collaborate on a solution. Early 2018: The Court agrees that Channelkeeper’s lawsuit could impact the City’s water rights and that the City’s cross-complaint can move forward. Late 2018: The City brings amended cross-complaint that includes adjudication of water right. 2019: The City continues settlement discussions with the other large water users named in cross-complaint to find a “physical solution”. The City and Channelkeeper come to interim settlement that involves actionable improvement plans for the River’s infrastructure. The City moves forward with cross-complaint believing it vital that a collaborative, enforceable solution be reached among all stakeholders. In order for the Court to recognize any comprehensive settlement agreement, State law requires the City to send out Notices/Summons to all who may be impacted. 2020: Notices and Summons go out, as settlement discussions continue. Because such a large group was included in this notification, communication meetings are being held to make sure all parties understand what is at stake and why this is needed to protect water rights now and in the future.