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Thomas Fire impacts on groundwater to be studied

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Photo by Holly Roberts
Although the "Ojai" water hole in the Ventura River near Rice Road still holds some water, a state study could shed some light on recharge patterns after the Thomas Fire.
Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter
The Ventura River Watershed Council will meet Sept. 6 to talk about an ongoing water study and draft geologic analysis of the watershed.
Geologist Kevin DeLano, from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), will update the Council on a project to model groundwater and surface-water flow in the Ventura River watershed.
“We want to create an in-stream flow model, to really understand how surface water runs throughout the watershed,” said Po Chi Fung, Ventura River Watershed coordinator.
The SWRCB recently increased funding for the modeling project and expanded the scope of work.
“Basically, they select particular watersheds where they see a lot of potential in terms of really helping the community understand how water flows through so we can manage our water resources more effectively,” Fung said.
The additional funding will enable the team to model impacts on watershed hydrology following the Thomas Fire.
“There's been a lot of discussion about sediment and how effectively and how quickly groundwater can recharge,” Fung said.
The project is expected to be completed in 2021, according to the SWRCB.
“Once it's done, they really plan to engage the community to teach how to use the tools they've created so we can get more information out of it,” Fung explained.
The study will help officials understand where the water is, how it's being used and where they can make changes.
“The more factual information we can get, the better,” Fung said.
At the meeting, DeLano will also update the Council on a draft geologic analysis of the Ventura River watershed, a component of the water modeling project.
“I think it will be interesting to see if they've found out anything and how they're going to incorporate that information into the model,” Fung said.
The SWRCB is taking comments on the draft analysis, which DeLano will present and then answer questions.
The Ventura River Watershed Council will meet Sept. 6 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the Oak View Park and Resource Center Auditorium at 555 Mahoney Ave. in Oak View.

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