What is the purpose of the Coalition?
The purpose of the Coalition is to promote and engage in a coordinated effort to ensure that water provided to the Ventura
County agricultural community is of high quality and is protected from degradation by upstream sources of pollution.
How important is agriculture in Ventura County?
Crops harvested in 2002 generated over $1.15 billion ranking Ventura County 10th in agricultural production in the state.
There are over 1,100 medium sized farms in Ventura County and their economic well-being is critical to the well being of all
sectors of Ventura County’s economy. While all crops are sensitive to salt in water supplies, crops in Ventura County are
especially threatened when salt levels increase. Strawberries, which are a $300 million dollar industry in Ventura County,
and avocados, which add another $100 million in crop value, are both highly sensitive to salts. As salt levels in irrigation
water increase, production goes down and so does the value of these critical crops that support Ventura County’s economy.
What is the water quality threat posed to Ventura County’s agricultural production?
The health of crops is dependent on the quality of water supplied through irrigation - high quality water means high levels
of crop production. When water contains high levels of salts plants become stressed and do not grow as healthy and, if salt
levels get too high, will not grow at all. Some crops like strawberries and avocados, which are very important crops in
Ventura County, are especially sensitive to the salt content of water. Ventura County’s irrigation water supply is threatened
by increasing salt levels despite regulations that are intended to protect water quality.
Where is this threat to Ventura’s agricultural water supply coming from?
One source stands out among others as the single greatest threat to agricultural water supply – sewage treatment plants.
On the Santa Clara River, two treatment plants operated by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts and serving the
Santa Clarita area discharge nearly 20 million gallons each day of treated effluent which contains very high levels of salts.
Day in and day out, these treatment plants are adding staggering levels of salt to the watershed. Over time, the salt levels
in groundwater fed by the Santa Clara River watershed and used for irrigation supply have dramatically increased.
Why hasn’t enough been done to solve the problem?
There are standards for water quality that must be achieved but these standards are not being adequately enforced. While
the Los Angeles Regional Water Board tried to adopt stringent requirements to control increasing salt levels, the Los
Angeles County Sanitation Districts challenged those requirements and won a settlement with the Regional Board effectively
delaying any major steps they would have had to take to control salts.
How can you help protect Ventura County’s agriculture water supply?
Understanding that Ventura County’s agricultural production is threatened by water pollution originating from upstream
sewage treatment plants is critically important. Then, ACT on this knowledge.