Calleguas Creek Watershed Monitoring Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers Calleguas Creek and its tributaries, which supply more than a quarter of the county's needs for drinking and irrigation water, as one of California’s most seriously polluted river systems, as it contains a remarkably high number of U.S. EPA's 303(d) water quality impairments. The Calleguas Creek and its tributaries flow through five cities and vast agricultural properties where urban runoff from imported water and stormwater, industrial discharges, large quantities of pesticides and nutrients utilized for crops, and sewage discharges flow freely into Calleguas Creek and its tributaries, which empties into Mugu Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.
Mugu Lagoon is one of the few remaining significant and high quality saltwater wetland habitats in Southern California. As such, its has been designated by California as an Area of Special Biological Significance (“ASBS”). Mugu Lagoon provides habitat to several resident and migratory endangered and threatened species, supports the greatest concentration of water-associated birds north of Anaheim Bay, and provides the largest remaining natural Brown Pelican roosting area in Southern California. Additionally, Mugu Lagoon serves as a staging grounds for seals and birds moving to and from Anacapa Island, provides rearing and spawning habitat for numerous fish, supports thousands of shorebirds each spring and winter, and provides habitat for thousands of ducks during migration and winter. Mugu Lagoon is also home to a historic traditional Chumash village site, Chumash sacred grounds, Chumash burial sites, and a number of registered Chumash Native American archeological sites.
Upstream from Mugu Lagoon Arroyo Las Posas and Calleguas Creek were of vital importance to Native Americans, particularly the Chumash, who located no fewer than five villages along Calleguas Creek. The Creek provided them with sources of food, ceremony, cultural materials for baskets, jewelry, and clothing. Chumash burials have been unearthed along Calleguas Creek, and the unlawful dredging and filling activity in the Creek bed and channelization activities, alter and destroy sacred sites and burial sites, sometimes without the knowledge of Chumash and scientific communities.
Concrete channelization and the dumping of fill material in floodplains and river beds, also threaten the ecological integrity of the Calleguas Creek watershed.
VCK’s strives to protect and restore Calleguas Creek’s Ecological and Cultural Resources and to reduce the load of toxic contaminants that flows into Mugu Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean from the Calleguas Watershed. Our efforts start with our volunteer based watershed monitoring program and testing of agricultural runoff that enables VCK to pinpoint pollution and abate it at its source, that began in 2006 under a U.S. EPA grant.