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California Students Undertake Watershed Project

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Energy and the Environment

California Lutheran University students partnered with the city for a Ventura Riverbed cleanup on August 31, 2009. More than 600 students from California Lutheran University (CLU) joined forces with the City’s Volunteer Ventura! program for the second annual Ventura Riverbed cleanup.

“We believe that getting all 600 incoming students to help with the river clean-up in their first few days on campus is a great way to introduce them to CLU’s commitment to service and justice and to connect them to the local community in a meaningful way,” said Stine Odegard, CLU Coordinator for Community Service Student volunteers, city staff and community members worked together from the beach at the Ventura River mouth northward along the riverbed to remove piles of trash left behind by homeless encampments. During the day, students picked up 7.7 tons of trash; in 2008, 500 students collected 5 tons.

This cleanup significantly reduces the waste that may wash into the ocean during the rainy winter months. In addition to protecting the watershed, this event raises student awareness of the social issues surrounding homelessness and its impact on the natural environment. “You learn by doing,” said Chris Kimball, CLU President. “You learn by serving others.”

Under new stormwater regulatory requirements, the City of Ventura could be fined as much as $25,000 per day if ocean bacteria levels exceed already stringent standards.

The City of Ventura and California Lutheran University received the support of generous local partners: E.J. Harrison, Home Depot, The Water Store, Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, and Costco in Westlake Village provided services, donations and financial support to make the clean-up a success. There was also media support from newspapers (Ventura County Star, VC Reporter and Ventura Breeze) and KCLU public radio. City staff from Community Services, Finance & Technology, Public Works, Community Development, Civic Engagement and Ventura Police and Fire Departments worked along side volunteers and other community members, including volunteer artist/photographer Jose Vertin who documented the project.

Planning is already underway for next year’s event with a 2010 goal to attract more business support and hundreds more community volunteers to collect more than 10 tons trash from the riverbed.

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