Ventura Water  I  Pipeline  I  Vol. 2, No. 11, Aug. 2012
Pipeline August 2012

"Think at the Sink" for Happier Pipes

Never go down the drainWe automatically turn on water faucets dozens of times each day. The water swirls and whoosh – it’s gone! But when was the last time you thought about what goes down the drain?

Since the invention of the garbage disposal (which claims to grind even the hard stuff such as small bones and fruit peels), people have turned the sink drain into a common destination for kitchen waste. People often throw or pour many substances down the drain without thinking of the consequences to pipes or the environment.

Putting trash down the kitchen sink (or any other drain in the house) can cause pipes to clog, burst or backup. This may eventually lead to expensive, hazardous sewage spills in your home, business, streets, rivers and ocean that also harm the environment. Here’s how to properly dispose of the most common things that should never go down the drain:

Ventura Water - Think At SinkFats, Oils and Grease (FOG) - FOG sticks to the interior surface of pipes, hardens over time, and may cause clogs, backups or sewage spills. FOG includes the obvious offenders such as cooking oils, meat juices and shortening, but salad dressings and sandwich spreads, dairy products, sauces and butter/margarine can also cause problems. Another bad idea is pouring hot water and detergent down the drain with grease. The grease only temporarily breaks up and will eventually cling to pipes as it cools. The best way to get rid of FOG is to let it cool/harden, mix it with other absorbent materials, place it in a bag or container, and then throw it in the trash. For liquid cooking oil, pour into a leak-proof container (plastic bottle with a secure top in which cooking oil came) and bring it to one of the City’s free Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Events held on the third Saturday of each month. Call 652-4525 Monday through Thursday to make an appointment for the next event.

Food - The best way to use food scrapes is to compost what you can and wipe or scrape the remnants into the trash. Use a drain screen in your sink to catch any remaining bits of food as you wash the dishes. Always use your garbage disposal sparingly.

 "The only thing that should go down the drain is what comes out of the faucet!"

Coffee grounds and eggshells - Should be put in the trash and never sent through the garbage disposal. These items also make great additions to garden compost.

Hair - Hair will catch and stick to other items and is very difficult to get out of piping once it gets in. Prevent hair from going into the pipes by using a fine drain screen to catch hair in your bathtub and shower and dispose of it in the trash.

Household hazardous materials - Such as motor oil, pesticides, paint and solvents should never be poured down the drain. These are highly toxic and will cause long-term environmental damage. Dispose of these items and many others at one of the City’s free Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Events by calling 652-4525 Monday through Thursday to make an appointment for the third Saturday of each month. For more details, visit and help keep our community safe and clean.


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Water: Take 1 Online Film Contest

Dear Customers:

For those of you who are familiar with California’s long history of water, it will not come as a surprise that water policy is still a contested topic. One such issue close to home is the second legal complaint recently filed by the City of Ventura against United Water Conservation District and how its pumping charges are allocated.

City groundwater wells located within the District’s boundaries supply about one-third of our water. United’s customers, including the City, pay a charge per acre-foot (326,000 gallons) to pump water from the underlying groundwater basins. The funds support United’s operations and capital improvement projects that aim to manage, recharge and prevent seawater intrusion into the basins, thereby protecting our regional long-term water supply.

Water is a shared resource between business and residential customers, such as the City, and agricultural customers. United’s policy has been historically (and continuing today) to allocate its charges based on a water code established in the 1960s that allows a 3:1 ratio, resulting in municipal and industrial rates that are three times greater than agricultural rates. Other issues aside, the City asserts that this ratio conflicts with the voter-approved Proposition 218 that in 1996 mandated that property-related fees and charges reflect the actual cost of service.

Why is action necessary now after all these years? Just as Ventura Water is experiencing escalating costs due to aging infrastructure and environmental requirements, United is facing sharply rising costs which must be borne by their customers. United’s municipal and industrial customers account for 23 percent of the total water use but contribute 46 percent of United’s revenues. Under the recently adopted rate structure, we are being charged $119.25 per acre-foot, up from the $85.50 paid last year and $58.50 the previous year. Combined, the two years of increases are projected to cost an additional $700,000 to our customers through rates. The cost factors driving United’s increases aren’t going away any time soon. It is clear that more money will be required down the road to meet United’s future environmental, operational and capital needs.

As environmental and financial stewards, we support the important mission of United to conserve and protect our water resources, but must insist that their urban users be allocated an equitable share of the financial burden. This is what we asked of our own rate-setting study, a nearly year-long process conducted in the public’s view with the input of a Citizen Advisory Committee.

Lawsuits do cost money, and we hope the money will be well spent to settle this water issue. It is never easy to test relationships in this way, but we must act in the best interest of our customers today as well as the generations that follow.

Shana Epstein
Shana Epstein
General Manager
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