Unprecedented Diversions Replenish Ventura County Groundwater Resources Local farms, cities and industries reap water supply ben

Oxnard, CA (February 16, 2024) - United Water Conservation District’s (UWCD) Freeman Diversion facility diverted 148,000 acre-feet (approximately 48 billion gallons) in 2023, significantly surpassing a record previously set in 1998. The facility typically diverts an average of 60,000 acre-feet a year for groundwater recharge, refilling the aquifers beneath the Oxnard Plain and slowing seawater intrusion.

The Freeman Diversion figures contribute to an unprecedented water year at UWCD, with releases and diversions for groundwater recharge totaling a record 271,000 acre-feet or more than 88 billion gallons. This includes storage and releases from the Santa Felicia Dam and Castaic Lake. The District’s amount of imported water also surpassed a record 24,150 acre-feet.

“The Freeman Diversion is a vital tool for managing the region’s natural resources. It sustains $1.08 billion in annual crop production in Ventura County,” UWCD General Manager Mauricio Guardado said. “Our efforts to expand and enhance the facility are already making a difference, and we are eager to see how additional groundwater resources help the Oxnard Plain flourish.

UWCD built the Freeman Diversion in 1991 to redirect water from the Santa Clara River to percolation basins. The 25-foot-high facility spans 1,200 feet across the Santa Clara River, delivering groundwater to the aquifers beneath Ventura County’s productive farms. The groundwater also supplies local industry in Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Ventura. A fish ladder allows steelhead trout to migrate upstream and a screened fish bay keeps fish out of the canals and recharge basins.

In 2021, UWCD initiated a multiphase, $60 million expansion of the facility to ramp up its recharge capabilities. By 2036, UWCD estimates the expansion will increase groundwater recharge and in-lieu surface water deliveries by 10,000 acre-feet per year. Project highlights include conveyance system enhancements, fish passage improvements, new canals, basin partitioning and underground road crossings.

The expansion will increase the recharge of water from high river flows, which improves groundwater quality, reduces nitrate levels for small mutual water companies and disadvantaged communities in El Rio and Saticoy, and combats seawater intrusion. It also emits low greenhouse gases and provides significant energy savings to customers who use diverted surface water instead of pumping from their wells.

With the record diversions in 2023, UWCD’s expansion projects are having an impact. In 2021, UWCD upgraded the facility’s Grand Canal, significantly improving diversion figures. The District also added Rose Recharge Basin to the facility in 2016, responsible for 6,800 additional acre-feet of recharge in 2023. Basin maintenance and rotation added 7,000 to 9,000 acre-feet of water for groundwater recharge.

To learn more about the far-reaching benefits of the Freeman Diversion, visit www.unitedwater.org/freeman-diversion/.

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United Water Conservation District manages, protects, conserves and enhances the water resources of the District and produces a reliable and sustainable supply of groundwater for the reasonable, beneficial use of all users.

Contact: Tara Bravo, CV Strategies
Phone: (510) 300-5843
Email: tara@cvstrat.com