2015 Federal Budget Includes Additional Funds to Dredge Ventura Harbor
For the first time since 2008, the Ventura Harbor is likely to be completely dredged next winter thanks to additional funding proposed in the President’s 2015 budget, released Tuesday, March 4. Dredging is essential to remove sediment buildup and keep the Ventura Harbor open and safe for vessels.
Released along with the President’s proposed 2015 budget is a work plan modification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees dredging, for the current year. The plan designates $7.071 million for dredging, but about $4 million of that was spent on the dredging work done this February and March by Manson Construction.
The remaining funds can’t be spent now because it’s too late, however, about $3 million will roll over and can be added to the $3.54 million the President’s proposed 2015 budget designates for dredging next year, explained Richard Parsons, Dredging Manager for the Ventura Port District, which owns and operates the Ventura Harbor. That should pay for a complete dredging.
Parsons said the last time Ventura Harbor was fully dredged was 2008. Each year, an average of about 600,000 cubic yards of sand moves down the coast in Ventura, accumulating at the Ventura Harbor entrance and potentially making the Harbor impassable for commercial and recreational powerboats and sailboats.
In recent years, federal budget cuts have made it a major challenge for the Ventura Port District to ensure that enough federal dollars will come in to dredge each winter.
“The work that was just done will get us through to next year. After several years of inadequate funding, it now appears we will get a complete dredging next winter and this will be a big relief to the commercial and recreational boating interests in the Harbor, particularly to the squid fleet. We couldn’t be more pleased with this,” Parsons said.
To secure funding for dredging, Ventura Port District officials have led a huge effort over the past two years to demonstrate the importance of annual dredging at Ventura Harbor. This effort was launched because for the first time in 30 years, the President’s 2013 budget did not include funding for dredging, leading to widespread concern that Ventura Harbor would be unsafe for vessels if not dredged and could face closure. This would devastate the local fishing industry, the economy, the National Park Service and recreational boaters, plus cost thousands of jobs. Federal money was eventually found for a partial dredging.
“The Port District would like to express our appreciation to Rep. Julia Brownley, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the commercial fishing industry, the National Park Service, recreational boaters, our many elected officials including former Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy, and Robert Bartosh from Ventura Packers Inc.,” said Gregory Carson, chair of the Ventura Port District Board of Port Commissioners.
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