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Filed under: Campgrounds & RV Parks, State & National Parks

A Campground Underwater

August 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


During the recession we saw many campgrounds go underwater and close down. That was financially, though. What happens when a campground is literally underwater? Obviously it closes, but how do they deal with all that water? As it turns out, that is exactly the problem they had to deal with McGrath Beach State Park in California.

Campgrounds current resemble a marsh or lake

Summers in California mean every campsite on a beach is taken. Demand is high and so when a beach campground goes down, especially one in a densely populated area such as Ventura County (where Good Sam has an office) there is a large demand to get it reopen as fast as possible.

Beautiful Sunsets at McGrath

McGrath is located at the mouth of the Santa Clara river that drains most of northern Los Angeles County. Each winter the river swells with the winter rain bringing everything from sand to rocks downstream. By spring time, though, the river begins to dry. The sediment it brought down with the heavy rains soon forms a dam at the entrance to the river. The result is one large and beautifully still lake. The problem was that this past winter there was very little rain. The dam at the mouth of the river never broke. Instead, the ocean waves build the sandbar larger and the estuary didn’t shrink but grew in size.

With some parts of the campground under 4-5 feet of water, it created a major problem. The county, realizing the economic value from the park sought to have the dam break or the water pumped out. The catch is the estuary is rich in biodiversity including several dangerous fish and other animals. With that came a mountain of approvals from the county to to the California Coastal commission. Unfortunately with that delay, it wasn’t until this past week that a pump with a 24” tube was placed in the estuary with 4 or 5 nets around it to prevent the endangered fish from getting stuck in the pump. Flowing at 7,000 gallons a second (about the size of 2 swimming pools) it will take nearly a month to drain the estuary to the point where park rangers can even enter the campground. At that rate, it will be early fall before the campground opens.

Even at that rate, though, there will still be high demand. In the meantime, you can still camp out just up the road at the Ventura Beach RV Park.


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