Conejo Post

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Conejo Valley Post
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A Better Way to Clean Stormwater Than The Kanan Biofilter

There are alternatives to building two biofilters in medians on both sides of Kanan Road in Oak Park between  Mae Boyar Park and Smoketree Avenue! There is overwhelming opposition to this stormwater-clean project  by Oak Park residents for a number of reasons.  A huge objection to the project misnamed, “Oak Park Green Streets Urban Retrofit,” is that the Ventura County Watershed Protection Agency calls for approximately 29 trees in the medians to be cut down or removed.

Mae Boyar Park looking toward Satinwood Street

Mae Boyar Park looking toward Satinwood Street

Basically the options Mary Wiesbrock and I came up with involve moving the biofilter/ditch elsewhere or replacing it with underground water treatment vaults in various places.  The VC Watershed Agency calls these filtering treatment vaults, “Modular Wetlands.”

The VC Watershed agency predicts that this combination of the treatment vaults or boxes and the two biofilters will  treat 1.7 million cubic feet of stormwater yearly.  An agency spokesman told me that the vaults would treat 1 million cubic feet and the biofiters would treat .7 million cubic feet.

Open space beside Medea Creek looking toward Tamarind Street bridge

Open space beside Medea Creek looking toward Tamarind Street bridge

OK, place an additional 7 treatment vaults in Oak Park to replace the biofilters!  That is one suggestion.  The other is to place the biofilters elsewhere.  One suggestion I heard over and over from Oak Park residents in meetings so far was to install the biofilter/ditches alongside Medea Creek in the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District right of way.  There is already a road alongside the creek and lots of flat space.

Another location could be in an easement that Ventura County must have from RSRPD through Mae Boyar Park at the north end, between Satinwood Street and Kanan Road.  A stormwater pipe runs under the park there now, so put the biofilters above it.  Or, do two of them and don’t use a slotted pipe to draw tree roots.

There are some alternatives to the Kanan Road biofilters…let’s seriously consider them.


April 20th, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Green, Oak Park, Ventura County, Water Issues

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Governor Brown’s Mandatory Water Use Reductions


It is a tough time to be serving as a board member of a water agency in California!  I know that I am feeling it, as a board member on Triunfo Sanitation District that owns and operates Oak Park Water Service.

The question is:  How can the board and staff of a water agency help residents cut back on water use an average of 25%, as demanded by Governor Brown?  And, what if you have to reduce use even more, like using 35% less water than in 2013?

The details have not been nailed down yet, and  the initial cutback rates could be modified next month.  For instance, both Oak Park Water Service and Las Virgenes Municipal Water Service have been assigned a mandatory reduction rate of 35%.  However, looking at the usage numbers on which the percentage is based, it seems that the State of California did not take into account our very high usage of recycled water.  Of both agencies total water use, 20% of it is recycled.

That is a huge rate, compared to, say, Los Angeles DWP which has a 1% -2% recycled water use as a percentage of their ratepayers total use. [Read more →]

April 16th, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Oak Park, Triuinfo Sanitation District, Water Issues

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How Stormwater From Other Streets Would Get in Kanan Biofilter

If the Kanan Road stormwater project was only aimed at filtering water flowing on Kanan, then it seems to me it could be a much smaller and acceptable project. Perhaps the VC Watershed Protection Agency could have 2 small ditches running down the side medians, not have slotted pipes in the bottoms of the ditches (which would draw tree roots seeking water) and leave the existing trees in place.

However, the Agency also wants to treat stormwater from Satinwood  Avenue immediately to the east of Kanan, as well as parts of Bayberry Street and Pinion Street at the Kanan project and therefore the Agency folks see the need for a larger biofilter.


So, what is the proposed plan to deliver stormwater from these other streets  into the Kanan drainage area?  Would you believe that this water carrying street polution is envisioned to come up out of a street drain at the north edge of Mae Boyar Park and Kanan Road, and then flow into the biofilter?

It is not an elegant scientific proposal, nor is it pretty.  Prior to coming up out of the storm drain (it does that because the pipe connected to the drain is very close to the ground surface) the water from Bayberry, Pinion and Satinwood flows in a pipe under Mae Boyar Park, after being collected at a drain on Satinwood.


There must be a better way to clean Oak Park stormwater!  (Please see next post.)

Photos show drain on Kanan Road with water running out of it, north down Kanan toward Smoketree Avenue.


April 15th, 2015 · California, Conejo Valley, Oak Park, Ventura County, Water Issues

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Oak Park folks gather to hear about bioswales, rainwater gardens, and the Kanan Biofilter Project


Dr. Richard Ambrose, Director of an environmental institute at UCLA, talked about using landscaping to promote water conservation to a group of about 60 people at a program organized by V.C. Supervisor Linda Parks on Sunday, April 12 at Mae Boyar Park in Oak Park.  State Senator Fran Pavley was the M.C.


Dr. Ambrose was to be followed by a presentation by staff from the V.C. Watershed Protection District on the Kanan Biofilter project and the proposed 10-unit underground stormwater filtering system in Oak Park.

I was at conservation event until 3:45 when I had to leave for another commitment. During the time I was present, it was clear to me that most people in the audience were at the event to hear about the local projects, and the presentation that included areas in Los Angeles that had bioswales were not of interest to them.  Unfortunately, Dr. Ambrose was continuously interrupted with questions, most having to do with the proposed Kanan biofilters.  The speaker was a good sport about it, but it must have been difficult dealing with impatient and angry people who wanted answers on the local projects. [Read more →]

April 14th, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Green, Oak Park, Ventura County, Water Issues

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Oak Park MAC’s Stand on the Kanan Biofilter Project

Looking north from Mae Boyar Park, to Kanan median on east side of street.

Looking north from Mae Boyar Park, to Kanan median on east side of street.

Former Oak Park MAC member Glen Wilcox’ comment made me realize that I did not report on what, if any, action the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) took on the Kanan biofilter project presented to them by the Ventural County Watershed Protection Agency on Tuesday, night, 3-24.

Unfortunately, this presentation was on the agenda as an Information Item, therefore not subject to a vote.  As we know, the MAC is only an advisory body and has no real decision-making powers.

I understand that in 2014, the MAC voted OK for the Watershed Agency to go ahead and apply for the state money to build a stormwater filtering project in Oak Park, but without being presented with project details.

So, although there was no vote on it, a letter from MAC Chair Alon Glickstein was available at the meeting on this, but I don’t want to definitively report what it said till I find my copy.  I am looking!

March 29th, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Green, Oak Park, Ventura County, Water Issues

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Take Out 30 Trees On Oak Park’s Kanan Road, Or Nix A $1.7 Million “Green” Project?

An evergreen slated for removal if Oak Park biofilter project goes ahead.

An evergreen slated for removal if Oak Park biofilter project goes ahead.

That is the choice, and at the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council meeting Tuesday, March 26, the overwhelming response of the 50 or so residents there was to save the trees.  These trees line the entrance to Oak Park on Kanan Road, north from Mae Boyar Park, and they act as a visual buffer of the busy thoroughfare for people living there.

Why the dilemma?  Ventura County Watershed Protection Agency has come up with a plan for biofilters, rather like bioswales, except processing a bigger volume of stormwater runoff, to run along the medians on either side of Kanan and the trees are in the way.  Upping the ante, the VC Watershed Agency applied for a State grant for this project to remove bacteria from the stormwater and got funded for $1.3 Million, leaving only $400,000 for the county to come up with.

So, does the VC Board of Supervisors turn down the $1.3 million grant because the planners did not think it a big deal to remove 30 trees in Oak Park, and did not tell the residents about details of this project until a month ago?  Or, do the Supervisors go ahead with this plan of building a very pretty ditch, 12″ to 18″ deep in the median to treat stormwater from Kanan and a number of adjacent streets? [Read more →]

March 29th, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Green, Oak Park, Water Issues

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No More Posts Until Book is Published

Dear Reader,

At the risk of sounding trite, I must say, there are only so many hours in the day!

I would love to be able to post at the CP and get my book, Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s, published, but that is not working right now.  Instead, all my time is going to the publishing and marketing process for the book, and I am looking forward to a publication date this summer, when there should be copies for sale in bookstores and online.

I am assuming my book will mainly be sold in the Pacific Northwest, since that is where the story takes place, but I will also be offering it for sale on my website,, and expecting to have it for sale on, as well.

Not much longer, and I can’t wait!

Janna Orkney, Editor

January 31st, 2015 · Uncategorized

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How Low Can the Temp Go in the Conejo Valley?


I checked where the mercury was on my patio thermometer with amazement.  It showed a temp of 16 degrees at 7:15 this morning!  Also, with the increased moisture in the air compared to a few days ago, frost decorated the rooftops of neighbors’ homes and also the windshield of my SUV.

I know that Oak Park, my little corner of the Conejo, gets colder in the winter than the rest of the valley, but, enough already!

Let’s have the mercury start moving into non-freezing territory in the early morning…

January 3rd, 2015 · Conejo Valley, Oak Park, Outdoors

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