The Matilija Dam was constructed in 1947 to provide water supply and flood control to the Ventura River watershed. The dam no longer serves its original purpose and has been considered non-functional for decades due to structural concerns and extreme sediment build-up. In 1999, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed a Resolution supporting the removal of the Matilija Dam.
Over the past two decades, the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP) has changed and evolved to meet the diverse needs of the community, environment, and wildlife.
In 2004, Ventura County Public Works Agency – Watershed Project (VCPWA – Watershed Protection) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers completed the Feasibility Study and Final Environmental Impact Report for the Matilija Dam Removal Project. The studies evaluated many methods for dam removal and sediment management, settling on transporting fine sediments to downstream river floodplain locations via a slurry line, while storing coarser sediment above the dam.
Shortly after 2004, community stakeholders raised concerns over the project’s proposed approach to managing sediment behind the dam. To address these challenges, stakeholders formed the Design Oversight Group to explore project alternatives for sediment management and disposal.
In 2016, the Design Oversight Group agreed on a new project approach that involved natural transport of all sediment (including fines) downstream and to support beach replenishment. Shortly thereafter, the Matilija Project Funding Committee was established and has since been working with VCPWA – Watershed Protection to advance MDERP. With the addition of downstream improvement projects, MDERP continues to holistically prioritize public safety and watershed health. See Project Elements for more information.