Major Dredging Effort is Underway at Ventura Harbor

For the first time in several years, a major dredging effort is underway in the Ventura Harbor, and is expected to remove about 80 percent of the accumulated sand from the Harbor entrance and sand trap.

The dredging will conclude in early March. About 800,000 cubic yards of sand material will be removed. The dredging efforts are managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers using $6 million in federal funds plus additional monies. Manson Construction Company is doing the work with the 26-inch hydraulic dredge, HR Morris.

The effort is focused on the Main Channel entrance to the Harbor as well as the sand trap, which was completely full at the start of the dredging operation in February. Dredging is essential to remove sand buildup and keep the Ventura Harbor open and safe for vessels. The last time Ventura Harbor was fully dredged was in 2008. Each year, 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 challenged the Ventura Port District’s ability to ensure enough federal dollars are available to dredge each winter.

Last year at about this time, 900,000 cubic yards of material had accumulated, but only half of it – 450,000 cubic yards – was dredged. This winter, over 1 million cubic yards of material had accumulated.

To secure additional funding for dredging after several years of inadequate funding, Ventura Port District officials led a major effort over the past three years to demonstrate the importance of annual dredging at Ventura Harbor with the support of Congresswoman Julia Brownley and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Without adequate dredging, Ventura Harbor would be unsafe for vessels and face possible closure, devastating the local fishing industry, the economy, the National Park Service and recreational boaters, and impacting thousands of jobs in the region.

Harbormaster Scott Miller said, “The Port District is delighted with the efforts of all involved securing the additional funding so the Corps can get slightly ahead of the game by removing more sand than that which normally accumulates in any given year. However, it’s just a start. The sand will continue to move down the coast and it will take repeated efforts to keep the sand trap and the entrance clear.”

The Ventura Port District continues its efforts to ensure adequate funding for dredging in the future. During the second week of March, Ventura Port District Board member Greg Carson, along with the Port District’s dredging manager, will attend the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC) in Washington D.C. to work on securing funding for next year’s anticipated dredging operation in Ventura Harbor, in which $4.83 million is already proposed in the President’s budget. However, additional funding would still need to be added to have adequate dredging accomplished.

CMANC is a consortium of California harbors, ports and marine interest groups seeking to optimize California maritime benefits by advocating for the maintenance and improvement of all California harbors, ports and navigation projects. CMANC works with the California Legislature and Congressional delegation to make sure that California maritime interests are supported by the federal and state government as much as possible.

 

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