The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project is a unique public-private partnership initiative to remove the obsolete Matilija Dam from California’s Ventura River watershed.

Since 1999, Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Protection (Watershed Protection) has engaged in a multi-stakeholder effort to remove the obsolete Matilija Dam (muh-TIL-i-hah) from Matilija Creek, the Ventura River’s largest tributary. The Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP or Project) is a watershed-scale endeavor with multiple components that will enhance the Ventura River watershed to benefit native wildlife, restore ecosystem function, and enhance local water resilience.

The benefits of Project investments over the next 10+ years will include:

  • Modernizing downstream infrastructure to enhance flood protection, water supply reliability and community climate resilience while addressing potential liabilities related to the obsolete dam and associated facilities;
  • Catalyzing job creation and economic stimulus at the local, regional and statewide levels;
  • Restoring natural sediment transport and ecosystem function to enhance floodplain, riparian and near-shore coastal habitats;
  • Enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities and equitable access to the watershed’s natural amenities for present and future generations;
  • Conserving water and protecting habitat through sustained treatment of Giant Reed and other invasive plant species; and
  • Renewing access to prime spawning and rearing habitat in the Matilija Creek headwaters for the federally-endangered southern California steelhead.

The essential components of the Project can be found on the Overview page, with more detailed information provided elsewhere throughout the site.

Please see Notices and Highlights below for a summary of recent and forthcoming events and publications.

We appreciate your interest in this comprehensive effort to re-wild the Ventura River headwaters while helping to prepare downstream communities for a more resilient water future. We also look forward to your comments and suggestions to help ensure that this new version of serves as a reliable and up-to-date source of information about the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project.

Notices & Highlights

On the evening of April 7, 2022 Watershed Protection and Project partners presented the MDERP’s Spring 2022 Community Updates in a virtual meeting hosted by the Ventura River Watershed Council. More in-depth Technical Updates were presented that same afternoon by Watershed Protection and the Project’s lead technical consultants. Presentations and recordings from both meetings are available on the Documents page under Community and Technical Updates. Presentations and recordings from prior MDERP Updates are also available at that location.  

On December 2, 2021 the California State Coastal Conservancy awarded up to $379,350 to Watershed Protection to advance the collaborative design planning process for improvements to the Robles Diversion and Fish Passage Facility. These funds will support the completion of design and sediment transport criteria as well as detailed modeling and technical assessment of alternatives based on the Robles Phase 1 Independent Technical Review currently in-progress.

On June 7, 2021, Watershed Protection and the County’s Roads and Transportation Department celebrated the start of construction on the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project with an outdoor groundbreaking ceremony near the Ventura River crossing. Construction of the new bridge has advanced significantly since that time, with the supports and main deck nearly completed. During the winter season, the focus will shift to work on road improvements and other out-of-river elements. River widening, bank protection, and removal of the old bridge are scheduled for spring/summer 2022, with completion of the project towards the end of 2022. To learn more, please see About/Project Elements/Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge

The comment period for Public Scoping for the preparation of a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report for the MDERP closed on October 14, 2020. A Draft SEIR focused on Matilija Dam removal is currently under development. Please see the Environmental Compliance page for additional information.