In March 2016, the Matilija Dam Design Oversight Group (DOG) reached consensus on an approach to dam removal that provides a cost-effective solution to sediment management. Following this consensus, the Matilija Funding Subcommittee was formed with volunteers representing various stakeholder groups. The Subcommittee has focused on developing a Funding Plan, while simultaneously pursuing funding opportunities for the Project.
This year, the VCWPD, with support from the Matilija Funding Subcommittee, has secured a $3.3 million California Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposition 1 Grant. This funding will advance the Project to the 65% design phase and complete the environmental and permitting requirements over the next 3 years.
The Funding Plan was developed to provide an overview of possible funding sources for the remaining design, permitting, and construction of the Project. Cost estimates were developed based on an analysis of the project timeline and costs of the various project components. The document may be downloaded here: Matilija Dam Removal and Ecosystem Restoration Funding Plan April 2017
The shorter timeline assumes sufficient funding is available to construct all downstream project components simultaneously, during 2021-2022, with dam removal complete by the end of 2024. This “best case scenario” also assumes no waiting period for dam removal following construction of orifices in the face of the dam (i.e., the required high storm event would occur immediately following the construction of the orifices). The longer timeline assumes the same planning schedule, but with sequential, not concurrent, construction of downstream infrastructure and includes a three-year waiting period for dam removal. In this case the dam is not removed until 2031, a 15-year project.
Total cost estimates shown were developed for "2017 dollars" as well as an escalated figure that includes inflation, and projected construction and management cost increases. The proposed “Uncontrolled Orifices with Optional Gates” alternative project ($111M in 2017 dollars) is a more economically feasible and expeditious project than the congressionally authorized Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Alternative 4b project ($205.8M in 2017 dollars) that was previously contemplated for the Project.
These preliminary estimates also indicate that the overall cost of removing Matilija Dam will increase over time, and that a longer timeline will be subject to both inflation and increased program management costs. Therefore, there is an advantage to completing the project on a shorter timeline, although this would of course be dependent on the availability of funds. Strong support from state agencies, (and unlikely federal appropriations to the original ACOE Project plan), provides a path forward for the less expensive local plan in a timely manner.
The report outlines a diverse array of current and potential state, federal, local, and private funding opportunities are potentially available to fully implement the project. Moving quickly to access the immediately available funding options presented in this plan (particularly CDFW and Coastal Conservancy Prop 1 funding), leads to substantial cost savings over time. But, it’s also important to note that this approach brings the Project to a level of readiness for possible benefit from one of the evolving legislative opportunities. This includes a state water bond or local tax measure pass with provisions favorable to implementation of Project components. However, the County may only be able to apply for and access funding if preliminary design work and downstream components are complete. Having a “shovel ready” project is critical to take advantage of existing state funding and evolving legislative opportunities. If successful, this strategy will not only lead to dam removal sooner, but significantly reduce the overall cost of the Project.