HERE’S ONE WAY to highlight malfunctioning or poorly designed infrastructure projects: climb onto the project in the dead of night and deface it (not that we’re recommending this course of action, you understand).
The smooth concrete face of the dam in question is unfortunately well suited to such acts of vandalism. Environmentalists and local residents alike have apparently long wished that California’s Matilija Dam – built near Ojai in 1947 – be torn down. The dam has been holding back silt needed for beaches, as well as blocking the route of the endangered steelhead trout. Meanwhile, the concrete structure protects
a mostly useless reservoir that apparently is only four feet deep.
Meetings have been held across various federal and Ventura County agencies to discuss ways in which the dam could be removed. Even the US Army Corps of Engineers has been brought in to look at ways of mitigating the dam’s effects on the local ecosystem if sufficient funds are not found to remove it.
But maybe there is a simpler solution: just split it right down the middle. That, after all, is what the graffiti artists seem to have suggested as the easiest way out, judging by the drawing that recently appeared on the dam’s face.
The artists (to date, still anonymous) drew a large, impeccably neat, dotted line down one side of the dam and complemented this with a similarly clean painting of a black pair of scissors.
Underlining how widespread is the opposition to the dam, local public officials seem to think of this as creative graffiti which embodies the community spirit. Certainly, they appear none too concerned with apprehending the vandals.
“I think everyone thought it was funny, and I can’t see the harm in leaving it there,” Jeff Pratt, director of the Ventura County Public Works Agency, told the Ventura County Star.