Protecting Ventura’s Water Future
The future of the Santa Clara River Estuary looks much brighter today as Ventura Water embarks on a new direction for wastewater and water management.
Our new approach will increase water recycling, eliminate discharges of treated wastewater into the estuary (where the river meets the Pacific Ocean), and make much better use of a scarce and limited resource – our clean drinking water – while benefitting our environment.
A settlement reached Aug. 17
between Ventura Water and the public interest groups Heal the Bay and Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program will result in at least a 50 percent reduction (approximately 4-5 million gallons a day) and up to a 100 percent reduction (8-10 million gallons per day) in treated sewage discharges to the estuary by 2025. This is an agreed-upon goal of the settlement.
Instead, this wastewater, which is filtered and disinfected, will be recycled to irrigate parks, open spaces and for other non-drinking uses. Water that is not recycled will be discharged to a treatment wetland for further cleaning. Then, it will flow through the wetland before being discharged to the river. These are preferred alternatives in the settlement.
This innovative solution will result in a healthier estuary, the creation of new wetland habitat, and increased water recycling. Water recycling is being done by cities and water agencies throughout California with great success as a way to reserve drinking water for times of drought, avoid water rationing and develop new local water sources.
As part of the settlement, Coastkeeper and Wishtoyo will drop their Clean Water Act lawsuit against Ventura and Heal the Bay will drop its administrative appeal to the State Water Board over its decision to grant Ventura a discharge permit without having made a finding on the environmental impacts the discharges have on the estuary.
This agreement is a great example of how government can work with public interest groups to bring about change that makes sense.
Safeguarding our environment has a cost, however, and requires an investment from all Ventura residents. Our water belongs to all of us and we are all equally responsible for it. The total estimated cost for this program is $55 million, which may result in an additional cost of $3.52 per month per average household until 2055. The Ventura City Council is expected to vote on a final settlement on December 12.
We hope you will take the opportunity to learn more and participate in the process by attending the Town Hall meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Ventura City Hall.
Cost of Service and Rate Design Advisory Committee Gets to Work
It’s been 21 years since the city of Ventura established its current water and wastewater rates, and they were set during a drought.
On Oct. 12, the volunteer nine-member Cost of Service and Rate Design Advisory Committee began the process of determining Ventura’s future water and wastewater needs as well as rate options at their first of four public meetings.
“Water’s not going to be cheap, and we’ve got to be sensitive to the rate payers and do the right thing,” said Committee Chair John Mundy. Mundy, a Ventura resident, is general manager of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.
Irene Henry, a Ventura insurance agent, was elected vice-chair. Remaining committee members are Alejandro Robles, Clint Crowell, Damon Wing, Diane de Mailly, Don Mills, Marty Melvin and Robert McCord. During the meeting, the committee learned the scope of their duties over the next four months. In February, they will make their final recommendations to the Ventura City Council.
Shana Epstein, general manager of Ventura Water, told the committee, “You are here to communicate the issues that matter to the community.”
Sudhir Pardiwala of Raftelis Financial Consultants, a firm that has served 400 utilities and conducted thousands of projects nationwide, gave a PowerPoint presentation that outlined the rate study’s objectives:
Develop a long-term financial plan for financial stability
Meet operating and capital costs, debt coverage and reserve requirements
Design an appropriate rate structure to be fair to customers, provide revenue stability and promote conservation
Ensure public acceptance and successful implementation
He said challenges include:
A reduced water supply and the need for additional water treatment
Increased wastewater treatment costs
The need for a significant capital improvement project in the coming years to meet aging infrastructure needs
Committee members were given a survey to complete by Oct. 19 to determine which of 11 rate pricing objectives – including affordability, rate stability and conservation – are most important to them.
About 25 community members who attended the meeting also were encouraged to fill out the survey. Results will be discussed at the committee’s next meeting on Nov. 16
that also will cover financial plans.
The final two committee meetings will be held on Dec. 14, covering cost allocation/rate design, and Jan. 18, 2012, when the committee reviews the water rate draft report and makes final recommendations.
The public is encouraged to attend the meetings to be held at 6 p.m. at the Ventura Sanjon Maintenance Yard’s Administration Building Assembly Room, 336 Sanjon Road.