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Ventura County

Wading Area Cleanup Studied

Analysts say a pump could improve water flow at Kiddie Beach, near Oxnard, where pollution often makes it off-limits for swimming.

September 16, 2003|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

After a yearlong effort, a consulting firm has concluded that ocean water circulates poorly at Kiddie Beach in Channel Islands Harbor and may be contributing to elevated pollution levels there.

Ventura County officials have long suspected that poor circulation may be a problem at the small wading beach near Oxnard. Water quality often fails to meet state standards, making swimming off-limits.

Everest International Consultants, hired by the county Board of Supervisors to investigate the cause, recommends that a pump be installed near the beach to improve water flow. But pumping should occur only for a short time and be closely monitored to determine whether it is doing more harm than good, the Long Beach consultants' report said.

Pumping could cause sand to migrate from the beach area to the deeper harbor waters, eventually making it difficult for boats to navigate.

Meanwhile, the county has also ordered a DNA study of water samples taken at Kiddie and nearby Hobie Beach. Officials are hoping to pinpoint the source of bacterial contaminants, said harbor spokeswoman Carol Abella.

"Birds, cats, dogs, seals, people, fish waste. Who knows?" Abella said. "That's what we'd like to find out."

Supervisor John Flynn, whose Oxnard-based district includes the harbor, said the federal government dredges the harbor every other year. He would not favor installing a pump unless the Army Corps of Engineers, which does the dredging, first gives the go-ahead, Flynn said.

The efforts may end up being a waste of time and money, Flynn said. "We may have to just face that, but I first want to see what the DNA study finds."

A task force overseeing the circulation study is advising the board to put off a decision until the DNA study is complete. That should occur before the end of the year, Abella said.

The consultant's report cost $138,500. Funding came from a $1.5-million state grant aimed at cleaning up California's beaches.

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