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Water Shortage Task Force Looks at Rebate and Incentive Program,
Learns About the State of City Parks

The vital maintenance of Ventura’s parks and public green spaces through the drought kicked off the Water Shortage Task Force’s Nov. 19 meeting. The 13-member task force watched a presentation by Elena Brokaw, director of the Ventura Parks/Recreation and Community Partnerships Department, on the state of the city’s parklands and the efforts to keep them alive, if not flourishing, through the three-years-and-counting drought. Slides depicted some of the city’s sports, tourist and passive public areas, lush and green before the drought, but parched in recent months.

“We are a very, very active community,” Brokaw noted, “and keeping (our park visitors) safe through the drought is our No. 1 priority.”  Aesthetics, while considered a lower priority, is still important, she said. “Letting the grass die is something we do not want to do,” Brokaw said. She added, however, “If the drought continues, we may have to revisit this.”

The task force also discussed possible incentives for Ventura Water customers in light of the city’s mandatory 20 percent reduction in water use. In her presentation on a “Potential Rebate and Incentive Program,” city environmental specialist Jill Santos detailed a plan which would provide customer financial incentives to reduce outdoor water use, including rebates for irrigation efficiency devices as well as a turf replacement incentive program. Ventura is the only city in the tri-county region that does not offer any kind of incentive or rebate to encourage residents to participate in greater water efficiency measures. 

Copies of both Brokaw’s and Santos’ presentations, as well as the complete task force meeting agenda, are available at  (scroll down to Nov. 19).

Customers are invited to attend the next Task Force meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Ventura Water Maintenance Yard, 336 Sanjon Road.

Schools, Businesses, Residents and the City All ‘Lead By Example’ in Ventura’s Effort to Conserve Water 

Ventura Water celebrated the community’s ongoing successful efforts to conserve water at its “Water: Take 1 Leading by Example” reception held on Nov. 20 at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel. About 125 community members watched a series of video presentations about the actions taken by Ventura’s fire and parks departments as well as by local schools, businesses and residents to conserve during California’s historic three-year drought.

Ventura City Fire Chief David Endaya said the department is taking measures to conserve, including reducing the amount of water used during training exercises as well as using dusters to clean off fire trucks instead of washing them. In addition, he noted, members of Firehouse No. 3 recently removed the front lawn and replaced it with drought-tolerant plants.

Elena Brokaw, director of the Ventura City Parks Department, said only playing fields are still being watered – for safety purposes. Non-playing fields are no longer being watered. “Brown is the new green,” she said. She also noted that it is fortunate that both City golf courses and the Marina Park area are watered with reclaimed water, which is why those landscapes are still green.

The Ventura Unified School District is actively involved in water conservation, board President Mary Haffner said following a video focusing on the ocean-friendly bioswale gardens recently installed on the Will Rogers and Loma Vista elementary school grounds. With their sloped sides and depressed areas filled by rocks, native vegetation, mulch and organic compost, the bioswales retain storm water and trap pollutants that otherwise would travel to the ocean. Students learn about water conservation, Haffner said, by having a living laboratory on their campuses.

Three local businesses - Lewis Engineering, Rincon Consultants and Westside Boards - were recognized for their energy and water conservation efforts. All have earned Green Business certification from the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division.

Steve Svete, vice president of Rincon Consultants, said the company has reduced its water consumption by 80 percent in recent years by replacing its 1950s kitchen and bathroom fixtures and by encouraging its 40 employees to save water.

Adam West, owner of Westside Boards, described the lengths he goes to create eco-friendly body boards, alternative surf craft and surf-inspired furniture. “We’re a little cog in all this, but we try to lead by example,” West said, adding, “I haven’t washed my car since June.”

Ed Wehan, a member of the Ventura Parks & Recreation Commission, shared his experience of replacing his lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping. “Every plant has its own personality,” Wehan said, adding that he enjoys watching the sparrows, hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies drawn to his native plants.

Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein ended the evening by encouraging everyone to vote for one of the 50 films focusing on water currently entered in Ventura Water’s 2014 Water: Take 1 online short film contest at

Watch the Films and Cast Your Vote: The 2014 Audience Choice Award Voting Deadline is Monday, Dec. 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Each of Water: Take 1’s short films take less than 5 minutes to watch. That’s all it takes to see water in a whole new way. Over 50 short films have been entered into the annual contest. Now it’s your turn to watch, learn, share and vote at   The distinguished jury of entertainment and environmental leaders are busy selecting the top prizes but viewers like you will decide which film will win the 2014 Audience Choice Award. Sponsored by Hopkins Groundwater and Brown and Caldwell, the filmmaker of the Audience Choice film will receive an iPad 2 at the 2014 WT1 Awards Ceremony to be held on March 19, 2015 at the Century 10 Downtown Movie Theater. Mark your calendars and watch for more details soon.

Will Rogers Elementary Fifth Graders
Tour Water Reclamation Facility 

In November, a busload of eager students from Will Rogers Elementary School gathered at the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility to learn about two different paths of water: how water is cleaned after traveling down the drains of homes and businesses, and how stormwater runoff impacts our environment.   

Students were split into two groups that rotated through educational activities. The first group toured the facility, while the second played a game called, “Oh Heron” that teaches about environmental factors required for a Heron population to survive in natural conditions and what effects pollution might have on that population. They also received a presentation with the Enviro-scape model to illustrate non-point pollution of storm-water runoff. 

During the plant tour, students learned about the three-stage treatment processes used to purify the water prior to release into the Santa Clara River Estuary, where, students learned, the water re-enters the natural water cycle.  

Back at Will Rogers Elementary School, students worked on two lab experiments in the newly constructed, state-of-the-art science laboratory. In the first experiment, students had to “treat” sewer water with a variety of mediums including rocks, sand and coffee filters.  The other experiment was to see how non-point source pollution contaminates water from a variety of sources, including pet waste, litter, motor oil and pesticides. 
These students are part of a new program at Will Rogers Elementary that emphasizes STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. STEM education is a sequence of courses or program of study that prepares students for successful employment or post-secondary education using technically sophisticated skills incorporating science, engineering, technology and math. This school is also a two-way immersion for English and Spanish. 

Ventura Water offers free tours of both their reclamation and drinking water treatment facilities. These tours are fun and educational for all ages. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Jill Santos at or (805) 652-4501.
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Happy Holidays To
Our Customers

While Ventura Water will be operating with essential staff during the City’s winter shutdown, Customer Care will be available at (805) 667-6500 from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. to assist customers. However, please note that Customer Care will be closed on Dec. 25 (Christmas), Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day). Normal operations will resume Jan. 5. The best of the season to you!

Customer Care
Winter Holiday Schedule
  • Dec. 24 - Open
  • Dec. 25 - Closed (Christmas)
  • Dec. 26 - Closed
  • Dec. 29 - Open
  • Dec. 30 - Open
  • Dec. 31 - Open
  • Jan. 1, 2015 - Closed (New Year’s Day)
  • Jan. 2, 2015 - Open
Dear Valued Customer,

During this holiday season, I would like to wish you all the best. May you enjoy all the festivities with your loved ones!  As we think about what gifts to give one another, choose to pay it forward by conserving water. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind during the busy days ahead:
  • Scrape all your plates clean into a compost bin or trash bin to avoid excess rinsing before the dishwasher (mechanical or manual) does the next step. (On a personal note: I have just been able to fulfill this conservation tip because I finally got a new dishwasher after the old one failed.  It is liberating not to rinse the dish first.)
  • Ask all your houseguests from the Northwest and East Coast to turn off the water faucet while brushing their teeth or washing hands. (My mother from Texas almost gave me a heart attack every time she left the kitchen faucet running over Thanksgiving weekend.) 
  • Stop watering after a rain storm. Remember, during the winter months, grass needs less than an inch of water a week, so if it rains one inch turn off your sprinklers for at least the whole next week. If it rains more, then leave them off longer.
The cooler weather makes it easier for us to conserve so we may have water when it gets warmer.  Thank you for all your conservation efforts you have already made as a community. 

Happy New Year to you and yours.


Shana Epstein,
ura Water General Manager



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