Ventura Water  I  Pipeline  I   Vol. 2, No. 5, Feb. 2012
Ventura Water

Ventura’s Rate Advisory Committee
Offers Recommendations

The Ventura Water and Wastewater Rate Advisory Committee has concluded its series of public meetings to review a 10-year financial plan. The nine voluntary citizen committee members evaluated potential rate structures and offered community perspective to Ventura Water staff as part of a comprehensive Cost of Service study for the water and wastewater utilities.

Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein, Committee Chairman John Mundy and Committee Vice Chairwoman Irene Henry will present the Committee’s recommendations to the Ventura City Council at 6 p.m. Monday Feb. 27.

Rates paid by customers will pay for the total projected expenses, which include operations, maintenance and capital projects to replace aging pipes, equipment and facilities.

To increase revenue stability for the water utility, service charges are recommended to raise 25 percent of the needed revenues; currently these charges generate 19 percent of revenues.

To support water efficiency, the tiers for residential water usage would be tightened. Annual wastewater rates for residential customers would be set each July based on the average water use during two cycles from the previous winter.

Also, bills to Ventura Water customers will include an “Estuary Protection Charge” to fund planning for a potential diversion structure to reuse the water that the City’s Water Reclamation Facility currently releases into the Santa Clara River Estuary.

Other recommendations include establishing a more structured reserve policy to cover funding for emergencies and infrastructure replacement, and removing the current obligation that some water and wastewater capital projects include a public art element.

Another outcome of the study was the restructuring of the differential charged to customers outside of City limits. These customers will no longer be charged an additional 70 percent above City rates but a flat surcharge on each unit of water used.  This is expected to lower rates for most of these customers.

Over the past six months, the Committee met six times to analyze costs and projected fiscal needs. Residents were invited to the meetings and officially noticed but few people turned out.

The Committee was thanked at the final committee meeting by Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy. “On behalf of the entire City Council, I want to thank all of you as citizen volunteers for participating in this study,” Tracy said. “This is a complex issue, and you're not likely to be 'thanked' for recommending an increase in water rates. Nevertheless, I want you to know we truly appreciate what you’re doing, and I know all the hours will pay off.”

To learn more, visit to view all of the Committee’s meeting materials and presentations.

Water main break along Main Street on January 18
Workers repair a broken water pipe that caused flooding on Main Street on Jan. 18. The section of cast iron pipe that broke is almost 50 years old.

Old Iron Pipeline Break Underscores
Need For Capital Improvement Projects

A major break of an 8-inch water main along Main Street on January 18 caused road closures, street flooding and water service disruption for local businesses. The pipeline, made of cast iron and installed almost 50 years ago, burst along a 10-foot stretch of the pipe. It was replaced in an emergency repair overnight, which restored service and opened roadways the next morning. The break, located directly in front of Ventura Fire Station No. 5, also caused soil to move beneath the station’s driveway as well as a nearby sewer pipeline, and both required emergency repairs the following week.

This type of incident is the most expensive and unpredictable in maintaining Ventura’s aging 380-mile underground water distribution system. It is projected that this main break will cost over $100,000. We also lost an estimated 1.26 million gallons of water - enough water for 13 average families for an entire year.

About 25 percent of Ventura’s water distribution pipes are made of older cast iron, which is known to rust and become susceptible to breaking due to the iron material’s interaction with certain types of soil. The rates paid by Ventura Water customers fund not only operations and maintenance but an extensive capital infrastructure renewal program as well.

A major pipeline replacement effort is projected to be needed over the next 50 years to maintain the system’s reliability into the future. To learn more about the projects currently in construction, visit

Is Your Money Going Down the Drain?
Did you know that statistically speaking 20 percent of all toilets leak?  It is guaranteed that 20 percent of our residents don’t know they have a leaky toilet.  Do you?

Toilets are one of the most common sources of leaks in the home, and usually they go unnoticed because the leaks often are silent and out of view.  On average, just one leaky toilet wastes 200 gallons of water a day, costing upward of $19 a month.

Testing your toilets for leaks is easy, quick and cost-effective. Just put a drop of dye, vanilla extract or food coloring into your tank and come back in 15 to 20 minutes to see if the bowl water has changed color.  If it has, you have a leak, but don’t worry.

The most common source of leaks is a flapper in need of replacing.  This is something even the most challenged in home improvement can tackle and our new Water Efficiency website can help.  Check out the “Do It Yourself” page for great tips and videos at

While you are there, explore the whole site and use the new water usage calculator to test your water efficiency.
Communication Flow
Is Important

Dear Customer:

For over a century, we have been quietly providing water and wastewater to our community. These are core City services, a part of everyone’s daily life. But do you know us? What are your expectations of Ventura Water? 

It’s no surprise that our staff members are technical and action-focused, and not really comfortable with tooting their own horn. They work around the clock, day in and day out, with a professional dedication as Ventura’s “trusted life source for generations.” For the past eight months, I have enjoyed getting to know our staff and meeting many of you through community events, council meetings, phone calls and even Facebook posts. I believe that effective communication is the key to our water’s future and we’ve launched more ways to talk to you, our customers – through email, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. And, we are planning to do more to reach out.

Why all this effort from a government-run monopoly to interact with our customers? Simply, we need your help to use our water resources in the most efficient and effective ways possible and to chart the most responsible path for the future. If our community understands and values its water, then we can work together to make sure that we are all doing our parts. You make important choices every day – using less water or using it more efficiently, taking the time to understand your bill and what it really pays for, and contributing your voice and ideas to the issues of the day.

Ventura Water no longer wants to be an invisible entity that you only think about when there is a problem with your water service. If we have not met, all of us at Ventura Water look forward to having the opportunity soon. We are listening so please let us know how we are doing!

Shana Epstein
Shana Epstein
General Manager

Ocean Friendly Garden

Copyright © 2012 Ventura Water, All rights reserved.