A growing number of Project-related grants have been secured by Watershed Protection since 2017, with others awaiting funder decisions or currently under development. These efforts are organized into four groups below: Active Grants, Pending Requests, Philanthropic Support, and Completed Grants.
The following summary of MDERP funding awards highlights more than $35 million secured for the Project from 2017 through February 2023. These awards build on more than $29 million in state and federal investments prior to 2017, and leverage more than $25 million in local contributions since 2001.
65% Design Planning Project. A 2017 grant from CDFW provides more than $3.3 million to Watershed Protection to complete 65% design plans for Matilija Dam removal, and preliminary design plans for other Project components. The grant also supports field investigations, feasibility studies, design plan development and oversight, independent technical reviews, an updated Real Estate Plan, updated CEQA compliance, a project permitting plan, and stakeholder engagement. An additional $1.73 million was awarded late in 2022 to assist the Project with timely completion of a host of critical path priorities. The extended grant term currently runs through March 2025.
Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Planning. A 2020 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) provides $5.025 million for final design plans for Matilija Dam removal, rehabilitation of the Live Oak Acres and Casitas Springs levees, and improved flood protection for the community of Meiners Oaks. Work on final design plans at Live Oak Acres and Casitas Springs is well underway. Intermediate design plans for Matilija Dam removal must be completed before final design planning work will commence; and work on final design plans at Meiners Oaks currently awaits confirmation of a preferred alternative for Robles as part of the Phase 2 re-design process there. (The 2020 WCB grant term expires in mid-2025, though extension maybe possible towards the end of 2024.)
Camino Cielo Bridge Replacement. In August 2022, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved a $1.191 million grant award to Watershed Protection to complete CEQA updates and final design plans for a new (replacement) bridge at the Camino Cielo low-flow crossing. The WCB-funded project will be undertaken in partnership with the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) through SCC’s 2021 and 2022 grants to Watershed Protection for a total of $810K, bringing the combined Final Design and Environmental Compliance Project budget to more than $2M total. (Work under both grants will commence early in 2023, and is likely to be complete by the end of 2024.)
Matilija Dam Orifice Design Planning. A June 2020 proposal to FEMA’s High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) grants program through the California Division of Dam Safety received a provisional award notification in October 2020, and was finally approved in late 2022. The grant agreement provides up to $88,000 in federal funds – matched by $48,000 in non-federal funds – for structural analysis and design plans for the installation of orifices at the base of Matilija Dam, all as part of the final 65% design plans for Matilija Dam removal.
Robles Diversion Re-Design. A variety of potential re-design options for the Robles Diversion Facility have been under review by VCPWA-WP, Project stakeholders and design consultants since mid-2020 when evolving plans for a proposed High Flow Sediment Bypass were suspended pending re-evaluation of potential options. A Phase 1 re-evaluation completed in 2021 outlines a new set of potential options along with recommendations for Phase 2 work – see Robles Diversion Phase 1 Summary Report, AECOM 2021.
o In 2021 SCC approved a grant for $379,400 for alternatives refinement at the Robles Diversion Facility based on the Phase 1 Summary Report and its recommendations for Phase 2.
o In 2021 Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) approved an $89,000 grant for an Independent Technical Review (ITR) of the Robles Phase 1 Summary Report. The Phase 1 ITR was conducted in collaboration with VCPWA-WP, Casitas, Reclamation and other Robles Working Group stakeholders – see findings and recommendations in the Robles Diversion Phase 1 Report, Independent Technical Review (NHC 2022).
o In June 2022, CDFW approved a grant for $1.558 million to advance the Robles Phase 2 design planning work through feasibility studies and up to 10% concept-level design. This grant leverages SCC’s initial Phase 2 investment, builds on findings and recommendations from the Phase 1 ITR Report, and supports initial technical studies on conforming modifications to proposed flood protection improvements for the nearby community of Meiners Oaks.
o Also in 2022, Watershed Protection and partners worked with the Project’s Congressional champions to secure $1.5 million in the final FY23 federal budget for Phase 2 design assistance from the Bureau of Reclamation, up to and including future physical verification modeling of the proposed 30% numerical design.
Additional 2D Modeling. A 2022 request for up to $358,000 for sediment transport modeling sensitivity studies as well as technical assistance from the Bureau of Reclamation was approved by the SCC Board in February 2023.
CEQA Compliance and Final Design Planning. A 2022 Augmentation Request to WCB was approved in February 2023 for $3.93 million. These funds will support CEQA compliance for proposed MDERP flood protection improvements, and increased final design costs under WCB’s 2020 Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Planning grant.
Additional funding is currently being pursued to ensure the timely completion of 30% design plans for proposed improvements at Robles and Meiners Oaks; for Robles CEQA compliance; for NRCS PL 566 planning and NEPA compliance for proposed improvements at Robles, Meiners Oaks, Live Oak Acres and Casitas Springs; and for program development planning for risk management and insurance, adaptive management and monitoring, and essential real estate actions and activities.
Since 2017 more than $2.1 million in additional funds have been awarded by Resources Legacy Fund, Patagonia Inc., and other non-governmental organizations to assist Watershed Protection in pursuing the grants outlined above, and to support other strategic investments to advance Matilija Dam removal and associated projects.
Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement. A 2019 grant from CDFW provided $13.427 million to implement the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project. All necessary easements and rights of way were acquired by mid-2020, and a primary construction contractor was selected and approved by early 2021. Construction of the new bridge commenced in April 2021, and the project was completed – including demolition of the old bridge, and both site and channel restoration – by the end of 2022.
Estuarine and Coastal Sediment Transport Modeling. A 2017 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided $278,000 for development of a nearshore sediment transport model to analyze potential changes from Dam removal to the Ventura River estuary, and along the near-shore coast. The project was completed towards the end of 2019, culminating in a final report by Integral Consulting, Inc. entitled Matilija Dam Removal Ecosystem Restoration Project: Estuarine and Coastal Modeling (November 2019).
Real Property Acquisitions and Appraisal. A 2018 grant from RLF provided $100,000 to Watershed Protection for (1) appraisal and acquisition of easements required for construction of the new Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge, and (2) appraisal of a property upstream of Camino Cielo that would, if acquired, help to address increased flood risks and construction of a new bridge near the current river crossing. The new Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge was completed in 2022; the proposed Camino Cielo property acquisition did not come to fruition.