In February 2015, CFROG filed an appeal with the County of Ventura for a project consisting of 19 new oil wells on existing well pads adjacent to the Santa Paula Creek in Ventura County. CFROG hired us to assess potential environmental impacts from these wells, and to better understand the potential environmental risks from the project. Based on our work, we recommended that a supplemental EIR be required to update the 30 year old environmental review that had been used for the project.
We partnered with Newton Geo-Hydrology and surveyed cross-sections of the Santa Paula Creek to measure the setback of wells on Drill Site No.7 (DS7) from the creek. The project included estimating discharge at an ungauged site and modeling the hydraulics in the creek using the Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System (HEC-RAS). We also documented connectivity of the drainage pipe from DS7 with the stream channel. Alex Dragos and Dr. Newton presented findings on behalf of CFROG at the Ventura County Board of Supervisors appeal hearing on October 20, 2015, and provided information on how the risk of pollution in stormwater runoff will increase with the addition of the proposed wells and potentially impact endangered Southern California Steelhead that have been found in the stream. While the Ventura County Board of Supervisors denied CFROG’s appeal (3-2), CFROG has filed a lawsuit based on our findings, and the DS7 project is currently being reviewed by Ventura County Superior Court.