The Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program, a local nonprofit dedicated to environmental advocacy, filed a notice of intent to sue the city of Ventura for illegally discharging toxic waste from its sewage plant into the Santa Clara River Estuary and Ventura’s coastal waters, which are violations of the California Clean Water Act, on Jan. 5. As of Monday, Jan. 11, City Attorney Ariel Calonne said, after a closed session meeting on the same day regarding the threatened litigation, “No reportable action has been taken.”

Paul Jenkin, the environmental director of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting the ocean, waves and beaches, said his group has been aware of the condition of the Santa Clara River mouth and estuary for years, indicating it wasn’t necessarily lethally toxic, but could pose such a threat.

“Historically, [the Surfrider Foundation] did do ocean water sampling,” Jenkin said. “The Santa Clara River mouth was a hot spot for high bacteria counts. It was a problem at the mouth, and we did track it. Clearly, if there are violations,

it would increase the pressure on the city to improve it.”

Jenkin did note, however, that there is a simpler solution than costly improvements to the treatment of sewage: reuse of gray water. He said that the most likely and cost efficient answer would be on a home-by-home basis — that residents would reuse and/or contain water from their bathtubs and sinks, and gray water could be used for irrigation, rather than treating all “used” water as if it was sewage.   

michael@vcreporter.com