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Applicants Sought for New Ventura Water Commission

Application Deadline is February 23


water dropThe Ventura City Council is seeking qualified applicants to serve on the city’s newly created advisory Water Commission. Water Commission applications are available now at the City Clerk’s office at Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street, or online at www.cityofventura.net/involved/advisory. Applications must be received at the City Clerk's office by close of business February 23, 2015.
 
The new Water Commission is part of Ventura Water’s ongoing public outreach and education effort. The commission’s seven-member group will review and make advisory recommendations regarding water rates, water resource infrastructure projects, dedication and in-lieu fee requirements, water supply options and other resources issues.
 
Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann said, “The City Council established this new Water Commission to make advisory recommendations because we value the partnership and participation of our community members. This commission is one of the many ways in which our Ventura residents have a voice in their local government.”
 
Four water industry experts or professionals and three general representatives who are interested in, or have knowledge of water issues will serve on the commission. Since water professionals may not be able or willing to commit to four-year terms, these members will be appointed for two-year terms; the three general members will be offered four-year terms. The water professionals are not required to live in the city of Ventura or the Ventura Water service area. The three general members do not have to live in Ventura, but they must live in Ventura Water’s service area.
 
The Water Commission will meet monthly, with the first meeting to be held this spring. All meetings are open to the public.
 
Thirteen members of the public have been volunteering to serve on Ventura Water’s Water Shortage Task Force (learn more at www.cityofventura.net/water/taskforce) to implement a Water Shortage Contingency Plan for Ventura Water and work on other water policy issues. The Water Shortage Task Force, which held its first meeting on Aug. 13, 2014, concluded its work with a final meeting on Jan. 14.

Read the press release about the new Water Commission by clicking here.
 

Task Force Recommends Changes to Water Use
Tiers and Rates

Highest Users and Those Who Don’t Conserve Would Pay More
 

Water Task Force meetingThe Water Shortage Task Force is recommending that the city of Ventura create a new, four-tiered water rate structure that will send a strong message for conservation during Water Shortage events like the current drought.
 
Under the proposed plan the City Council is expected to consider in February, low to average residential water customers who conserve by 20 percent would not see an increase in their water bill. The highest residential users would pay more for their water - but won't pay that much more if they reduce use by 20 percent, even at the highest tier. The very lowest users who have already cut back would see no increase and would see slight reduction in their bill if they cut back even more.
 
Commercial customers would be expected to conserve by 10 percent during the Stage 3 Water Shortage, so business activity is not harmed, a common practice in the water industry. And, if the city’s water suppliers increase their costs or the city incurs penalties from customers not conserving enough, those costs would be passed on to all customers (except the lowest-tier residential customers), according to the proposal.
 
The new tiers and rates would take effect in July 2015 if approved after public hearings targeted for May and June, said Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein.
 
The 13-member Water Shortage Task Force has been studying and considering proposed changes to Ventura Water’s water tiers and rate structure during their final two meetings in December and January. Task Force members discussed several reports prepared by Raftelis Financial Consultants that examined different models for rates and tiers.
 
The new proposed rate structure would include four tiers. The average residential user’s bill would remain the same IF they cut back by 20 percent; if they don’t, their bi-monthly bills would rise, perhaps by about $22, according to draft figures calculated by Raftelis. The highest water users who fail to conserve would pay even more.
 
Raftelis’ figures account for the city fully recovering drought-related costs from lower water sales due to conservation and Stage 3 drought expenses, estimated at $1,134,000. Expenses include the proposed conservation incentive program, water waste enforcement, customer outreach and customer surveys.
 
“We are trying to send a stronger message for conservation by hitting the biggest users,” Sudhir D. Pardwala, Raftelis’ executive vice president, told the Task Force.
 
Ventura Water Officials said 56 percent of water use is currently in the lowest tier and only 19 percent of water use is currently in the highest tier.
 
Water Shortage Task Force Member Rob Corley said the proposed new tiers are fair and incentivize people to do the right thing and conserve. “It’s a very balanced and fair system,” he said at the December meeting.

Next on Tap: City to Consider a Water-Saving Incentive Program for Customers  
 

artificial lawnFollowing a recommendation from the Water Shortage Task Force, Ventura Water will ask the City Council to establish an incentive program for water customers who undertake steps to reduce their outside water use. 

Replacing your thirsty lawn with artificial turf or installing water-saving irrigation devices would possibly be among those practices included in an incentive plan aimed at boosting conservation.
 
“Many California cities, including Santa Barbara and Long Beach, have incentive programs to promote water efficiency and motivate customers to save water, and there’s an overwhelming public interest here for an incentive plan too,” says Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein.
 
The hope is that an incentive program would help customers achieve their 20 percent water reduction, since conservation alone isn’t yet achieving that level of reduction that the city requires during the Stage 3 water shortage. If approved by the Council, the incentive program could be underway by the summer or fall of 2015.
 
Because most discretionary water use is outdoors, the incentive plan focuses on irrigation efficiency devices and a turf removal and replacement incentive when property owners install a low-water alternative to grass or synthetic turf. Some properties could qualify for rebates in both categories.
 
Irrigation efficiency devices may include a rain sensor or shut-off device; a smart controller that waters only according to climate conditions; and rotating nozzles with a pressure regulator. Applicants could receive a rebate of up to $300 per applicant and specific rebate amounts for the devices will vary.
 
For turf replacement, a rebate of $2 per square foot, up to $1,600 per properties, will be available for applicants that participate in a landscape survey. Applicants could also receive a rebate for applying compost and mulch.
 
Ventura Water is considering budgeting $825,000 to run the incentive program this year during the mandatory 20 percent water-reduction drought stage. 

Ventura Water Customers Reduce Water Use 7.05 % in 2014

 
Ventura Water’s customers reduced their water consumption by 7.05 percent in 2014 compared to 2013– a significant annual decrease, but nowhere near the mandatory 20 percent reduction required under the city of Ventura’s Stage 3 Water Emergency declared last fall or the state’s call for a 20 percent reduction.
 
Only in the month of December of 2014 did Ventura Water customers overall reduce water use by at least 20 percent. Total water use was down 29.95 percent last month compared to December 2013. Water officials attribute last month’s large decrease to the rain and cool weather that resulted in residents turning off their sprinklers. In December 2014, 3.52 inches of rainfall was measured at Ventura City Hall and 4.9 inches fell at Casitas Dam.
 
Smaller water use reductions were recorded for most months in 2014, including a 16.16 percent drop during October 2014 compared to October 2013. However, customers’ overall water use skyrocketed by 27.85 percent in January 2014, when it was unseasonably warm and dry, which is why the City Council called for voluntary conservation at the beginning of February 2014. 

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Dear Valued Customer,

I hope all of you had a great holiday season and are ready to jump into 2015 with both feet. 

The Water Supply (Shortage) Task Force was definitely able to take 2015 by the horns.  At the last meeting of the Task Force on Jan. 14, the 13-member committee accepted a revised Water Shortage Event Contingency Plan and Water Shortage Rates to be recommended to the City Council for action. 

Civic involvement is critical to making policy that reflects what the community can accept. Ventura Water is so thankful to the 13 members of the Task Force who worked tirelessly from September 2104 to the present to formulate Ventura’s way to meet the water shortage caused by this prolonged drought. The Task Force was chaired by Suzanne McCombs and Edward McCombs served as vice chair. The other 11 members included: Bryan Bondy, Ted Cook, Rob Corley, Diane de Mailly, Douglas Hahn, Don Jensen, Robert McCord, Marty Melvin, Don Mills, Ed Summers and Diane Underhilll. Once again, a tremendous thank you goes to these individuals for their hard work. 

With the Task Force’s recommendations going to City Council, the City Council is now looking for a long-term body to assist in advising on a variety of water policies. The new Water Commission will be formulated this spring. If you are interested, applications are available at the City Clerk’s office and must be received at the City Clerk's office by close of business February 23, 2015. The City needs your talents and skills to make sure the best solutions are implemented for Ventura.

Sincerely,





Shana Epstein,
Vent
ura Water General Manager
 

 





















 




Water Take One Awards Ceremony - Mark Your Calendars for March 19


The 2014 Water: Take 1 Awards Ceremony will be held March 19, 2015 at the Century 10 Downtown Movie Theater in Ventura. Mark your calendars and watch for more details soon!
 
Keep up to date by “liking ” Water: Take 1 on Facebook - www.facebook.com/watertake1 and “following” WT1 on Twitter, twitter.com/watertake1.
 
Water: Take 1, presented by Ventura Water, is an important initiative that highlights our relationship with water: how we look at it, how we use it and how we share it. The global online film contest is now in its third year and showcases short films of under five minutes in length that address the topic of water in any genre, including documentary, drama, comedy, animation, sci-fi or experimental. Prizes are offered to winners in certain categories. Visit www.watertake1.com to view the films entered this year. 
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