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New Watershed Coordinator to Address Critical Water Issues

By on October 5, 2011 in News

lorraine-for-website-postOjai – This week Lorraine Walter began her three-year tenure as the Ventura River Watershed Coordinator. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy was awarded a three-year grant to fund the position and is hosting this function from their Ojai Valley office, located at HELP of Ojai’s west campus off of Highway 150. 

The idea for the position grew out of the Ventura River Watershed Council, of which the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is a member. The Council is a coalition of water agencies, local governments, non-profits, individuals, and others who have met monthly for the last several years to advance shared goals for the protection of the Ventura River Watershed. Thanks to the grant from the California Department of Conservation, and matching funds from the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s partners, the dream has become a reality.

 Lorraine’s first and primary task will be to coordinate the development of a watershed management plan. “Writing a watershed plan is a very ambitious undertaking,” said Lorraine. “The idea is to write one plan that summarizes the big-picture water-related problems in the watershed¾that’s the easy part¾and then to develop realistic, multi-partner solutions to those problems.”

 “Watershed” is another word for drainage basin, or the whole area that drains to a central water body¾in this case the Ventura River. The Ventura River drainage basin extends from Nordhoff Ridge and White Ledge Peak¾on the rim of our “basin”¾to the Ventura Estuary and Pacific Ocean.

 Everything from flooding, streamside habitat restoration, access for people to enjoy streams and rivers, water shortages, and water pollution are addressed in watershed plans. Having a watershed plan will also help the Ventura River Watershed become eligible for state and federal water project funding.

 Lorraine brings vast experience and expertise to her new role. During the drought years of the late 1990s, she began working for the Countywide Water Conservation Program with the County of Ventura. There she promoted water-conserving landscapes, efficient agricultural irrigation, low-flow plumbing devices, and worked on other regional water-use efficiency programs. Lorraine then spent 11 years with the Ventura County Solid Waste Management Department teaching composting, promoting mulch use by growers, and coming up with various creative ways to keep discards out of landfills. For the past 10 years Lorraine worked as a grants administrator, watershed planner, and land use planner for the Ventura County Planning Division. She raised funds for and then implemented a wide variety of projects for the Division, including work on wetlands, open space and biological resource issues, as well as green building, energy efficiency, and smart parking code. Lorraine is also interested in and has volunteered in the area of food security and community gardens.

The process of writing the watershed plan will be open to anyone interested: the general public; regulators; water, flood control, and sanitation districts; property owners; and others. “I encourage anyone interested in this project to get in touch with me. I’d like to hear your ideas, your stories about “the old days on the river,” and I’d like your contribution at our meetings.”

 Lorraine can be reached at or 805/649-6852 x4.

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, a local non-profit, protects your views, trails, water and wildlife. To become a member of OVLC or for trail maps and other information please visit or call headquarters at (805) 649-6852.

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