November 2, 2023
Ojai Valley News
A new website with resources to inform, educate and help prepare people for flooding has been launched by the Ventura County Public Works Agency.
View the website at https://vcfloodinfo.org/.
The website shows real-time storm data, linked from the Ventura County Flood Warning System, showing the status of flooding in specific areas.
The website is available in Spanish and multiple other languages. It includes instructions on getting flood alerts on your phone, flood-zone hazard mapping, weather reports, sandbag information, flood-insurance resources, floodplain mapping, elevation certificates, property protection suggestions, and more.
The website also features the Ventura County Flooding History page, with a story map that includes flooding as far back as 1907 and as recent as the 2023 storms. This past information allows the county to look at former flooding impacts and plan for a better future, considering the infrastructure systems that worked or failed, and how Ventura County communicated with residents, according to county officials.
The online resource follows on the heels of Ventura County being declared a federal flood disaster area after last winter’s storms. Those were followed by unusual summer rain and even a tropical storm on
And, of course, one of the greatest man-made disasters in California history occurred in Ventura County in 1928 when the St. Francis Dam broke in San Francisquito Canyon, unleashing 12 billion gallons of water and debris down the Santa Clara River to the ocean 54 miles away, killing at least 430 people.
Ventura County’s biggest water holding dams include Lake Piru, Bard Lake, and Lake Casitas, which collectively hold 310,000 acre-feet (about half the area of Yosemite National Park) at capacity. The county of Ventura owns the 168-foot-tall Matilija Dam in the Ventura River watershed on Matilija Creek north of Ojai, which has been silted up for decades and is slated for removal. It was constructed in 1948. It was supposed to create a water-supply reservoir. Out of the original capacity of 7,000 acre-feet, only approximately 100 acre-feet capacity remains behind Matilija Dam.
The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project is immense, estimated to cost $230 million to modernize downstream infrastructure. This includes flood protection, water supply reliability, community climate resilience, renewing access to prime spawning and rearing habitat in the Matilija Creek headwaters for the federally endangered Southern California steelhead, and restoring natural sediment transport and ecosystem function to enhance floodplain, riparian, and near-shore coastal habitats.
The county Public Works Agency has been working on this initiative since 1999 and in 2022, completed a new Santa Ana Bridge in Oak View as part of modernized infrastructure needed before dam removal.