Algae is a plant-like aquatic organism that grows naturally in the environment. Nutrient pollution from human activities, however, can fuel excessive blooms of algae that negatively impact rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean. Some forms of algae can produce toxic byproducts that are harmful to people and animals, though abundant growth of even non-toxic varieties can chemically alter aquatic ecosystems by depleting oxygen in the water of and affecting pH levels.
Government agencies have determined that the Ventura River is impaired by nutrient pollution and over-abundant algae growth, and for several years, they worked to develop a regulatory program (called the “Algae Total Maximum Daily Load” or “TMDL”) to reduce sources of nutrient pollution throughout the watershed. Supported by over a decade of water quality monitoring in the Ventura River watershed, Channelkeeper was the lead environmental advocate throughout this lengthy process, working to ensure that the TMDL will result in a significant reduction of nutrient pollution. We participated in numerous stakeholder meetings, reviewed and commented on draft regulatory documents, and attended hearings to provide oral testimony to the Water Board. Our monitoring data was used extensively by the Water Board and others to formulate the TMDL and to characterize conditions throughout the watershed. The final TMDL was adopted by the LA Regional Water Board in December 2012 and, despite some weaknesses, Channelkeeper is confident that the program will result in a healthier Ventura River. The final TMDL sets limits on the amount of nutrients that can be discharged from various sources, and requires upgrades to the sewage treatment plant and widespread implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to keep things like fertilizer and animal waste out of the river. Channelkeeper plans to continue monitoring water quality and implementation of BMPs throughout the watershed to ensure that the TMDL is fully implemented and enforced.