Friday, August 15, 2008

Matilija Dam

Pine Mountain

Hello again from Pine Mountain. It is the middle of August already. We just finished fixing the top to the cistern. It is all patched and freshly painted. I also patched and painted the spouting that flows into it. Last week we drained sealed and coated the inside so that it does not leak. Now we are all ready for the fall and winter storms to fill it up.

We had a little excitement in our little mountain town on Thursday. A Hollywood film crew was in town filming some scenes for an upcoming movie called Timmy and the Bandits. It should be out next year sometime. I may just go see it so I can look at our local scenery. This week we have the story of my visit to Matilija Dam. First we have our usual sections on Alternative energy, Easy Cash, Nutrition and Health, Traveling, and Adventure.

Alternative Energy

First for those of you that have just joined us, here at the ranch, power is supplied by 2 wind turbines and a water turbine. We also have a few solar panels that charge up a battery bank. Our horizontal turbine looks like a small wingless airplane on top of it’s 80 foot tower. We purchased that one from Our vertical turbine we purchased from, it spins away on a 30 foot or 10 meter pole out by the barn. Our water turbine in the dam of our pond came from an Alaskan alternative energy company The wind has been normal for this time of year. Every day there is an almost constant 7 or 8 mph wind. In the late afternoon and early evening the wind picks up to about 10 to 15 mph.

Is your electric bill going through the roof? Are you paying $200 or even more per month for electricity? Do you want to cut costs or even learn how you can sell electricity back to the power company so they pay you instead of you paying them? Learn how you can supplement you electricity and reduce your electric bill for only a small investment of less than $200 in alternative energy. Go to and learn easy ways you can cut your electric bill.

The price of fuel keeps going up in price. Gasoline is now over $4.50 a gallon. Everyone is looking for anything that will increase fuel economy even a little. Most Alternative energy fuels are still years away but there is a way to improve your mileage, increase your horsepower, and reduce your emissions all at the same time. You will be able to turn your vehicle into a fuel efficient one with only a few readily available items from your local hardware. The instructions are easy to follow and there are many diagrams so you can see how to do it too. It does not matter if you have a gasoline or diesel engine vehicle it will work with either one. Go to to learn more while supplies last.

Do you want to increase your fuel economy and create 30% less pollution? How about increase your gas mileage and increase your power too. An environmentally safe non toxic product called Ethos will do just that. It improves gas economy by reformulating your gasoline to allow more air to be mixed with the fuel vapor. This causes cleaner combustion and increases power. Your fuel burns more completely and thus produces less emissions. All you have to do is add a couple ounces per tank of gasoline or diesel. Go to and learn more about this alternative energy supplement.

Easy Cash

Is the cost of living getting you down? Do you need to make some quick money to cover expenses? Go to , put in the access code mountain1, watch a free short movie and start making the money that you have dreamed about.

Nutrition and Health

These days everyone is concerned about nutrition and health. Most of our food is over processed and has very little nutrient value. Our food looks great but not much more. If we want to stay healthy in today’s world we are forced to take supplements. The question is: What supplements will provide what you need for the least amount of time and money? I believe one of the best supplements out there is called acaiplus. It is a blend of vitamins and minerals plus acai to promote health and long life. They also have vitamins to help improve your long term and short term memory. They also have an energy drink that gives you steady long term energy. To learn more about these products go to Check out Acaiplus, Feed My Brain, and White Lightning.

Travel for Less

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Have you ever wished that you could travel for a living. Does the call of far off places thrill you? Would you like to travel the world on your own schedule and see the places that you want to see? Would you like to enjoy your vacation and get paid for it too? Long to travel on your own schedule and enjoy your vacation? Would you like to travel for a living and see new and interesting places every day? Do you like to write letters to your relatives telling them about your recent vacation? Then you have what it takes to become a travel writer. All you need is a little instruction and you can have a dream job too. Go to and learn how you to can become a travel writer.

Adventure and Treasure Hunting

Do you watch movies like Indiana Jones and wish you could do that in real life? Do you like a good mystery and a good adventure? Would you like to use modern methods and tools to find long lost treasure?

All this is possible if you learn from the best. Stan Grist, world renown adventurer and treasure hunter has written a course complete with step by step instruction on how to become successful. Go to

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And now our feature story.

Matilija Dam

The Matilija dam is just outside of the town of Ojai, California in Ventura county. It has been a problem ever since it was built. First it was built out of inferior materials so it started leaking as soon as it was built. Second it created a huge fish kill while it was filling because of stagnant water. Third the reservoir filled with sediment even faster than predicted because of a 100 year storm in 1969. Fourth the steelhead salmon population went from over 5000 to under 200 because 85 % of the steelhead spawning territory was locked behind the dam.

Before the Dam

The Matilija creek and Ventura river were full of steelhead Salmon in the 1940’s. Schools let kids out early during Salmon runs so they could help their families catch fish. Normal sediment movement kept the Ventura beaches supplied with sand.

Dam Construction

Even though many people were opposed to the construction, the dam was built anyway starting in 1947. Even before it was built it was predicted that sediment buildup would make the dam useless in less than 40 years. In 1949 while the dam was filling the stagnant water behind the dam caused a major fish kill. The dam filled in 1952 and then the real problems began. Inferior limestone and concrete were used in construction so the dam began to leak. Originally built to a height of 198 feet, the dam had to be lowered by notching the dam in 1965 to keep the leaks from causing catastrophic failure.

This brought the reservoir down to 65 % of the original capacity. A hundred year storm in 1969 caused the sediment to fill the reservoir with 27 % of the capacity. In 1978 The dam was notched a second time further reducing capacity. Still it leaked with grass and weeds growing in the cracks. In 2001 a storm dropped 12.65 inches of rain on the county and turned the dam into a muddy waterfall. 6890 cubic feet a second of water and sediment roared over the top of the dam. The drain pipe to the dam can only handle 250 cubic feet a minute. Now the reservoir has only a 5 % water capacity. The rest is sediment so the dam is now only an obstruction to the fish and totally useless for anything else.

Dam Removal

In 1998 a feasibility study began to see how the dam needed to be removed. In 2004 the final report was sent to the Secretary of the Army for approval. In 2005 Congress approved the removal and the design phase began. It will cost about 144.5 million to remove the dam and stabilize the sediment so it can slowly wash down the stream and replenish the beaches with sand. If all goes according to plans the dam should be removed between 2010 and 2012. The fish will be able to swim upstream and spawn once more and should slowly regain their populations.

Dams and Their Impact On The River Ecosystems

In the last few hundred years dams were built in many places. Some of them were good and necessary but many others had detrimental affects on the rivers they were built on. In the last hundred years over 400 dams have been removed. Some were removed for habitats, some because they were too costly to maintain, and others because they were no longer needed. Once Matilija is removed it will be the largest dam removed so far.

Pine Mountain Evening

It is evening again and I am sitting in my favorite easy chair in the living room drinking my coffee from Squeekers my African grey parrot is seated on his perch eating peants. Tonight my sample coffee is Fool's House Vienna. This dark fresh roast coffee has just a speckling of oil on the bean. This coffee is slightly darker roast than the other coffee's that I have sampled so far but it is still good coffee. I have finished my coffee now and it is time for bed. I put Squeekers in his cage and head off for bed. Good night all see you next week.


Matilija Coalition

Matilija Dam Restoration Project

Ventura County Star September 25 2007