Thank you to everyone who attended the Town Hall meeting on November 10 to discuss the settlement to protect the Santa Clara River Estuary
. A look into Ventura’s water future, the meeting drew a broad cross-section of the community - civic leaders, students, environmentalists, neighboring water agencies and business members of all ages and backgrounds.
Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein presented a long-range plan to eventually divert water from the Santa Clara River Estuary, where the City’s reclaimed wastewater is now released.The plan is the result of a settlement agreement by Ventura Water, Heal the Bay
and Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program
to resolve legal actions associated with Ventura’s wastewater facility discharges of tertiary treated water into the Santa Clara River Estuary.
Looking ahead to 2025, the plan calls for 50 to 100 percent of the City’s reclaimed water to be diverted from the Estuary and reused for non-drinking purposes. How the water will be diverted and reused will be decided through the agreement process over the next five years or so. While costs will not be known until then, the agreement caps the total expense at $55 million, which could potentially result in an additional cost of about $3.50 per month per household through 2055. However, grant funding will be aggressively pursued to finance the program and expenses long-term may also be offset from revenue generated by reclaimed water sales as water supplies become more limited and valuable.
“This is true long-term planning, and is the best way we know how to accomplish our goals to integrate water resources,” Epstein said.
Among residents’ concerns at the meeting was the quality of the water that would be treated and reused for non-potable purposes in their living environment. Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s director of water quality, assured the audience the recycled water would still need to be treated to standards. Calling the settlement “a historic turning point,” James said the negotiation “wasn’t an easy process … but we’re really excited about what we came up with.”
The meeting was part of a public outreach effort to inform the community about the agreement before the Ventura City Council votes to ratify the final settlement on December 12
. To view a video about the settlement, visit Ventura Water’s YouTube Channel
, and to learn more, visit www.cityofventura.net/water/rivers
Volunteer Advisory Committee Reviews Water and Wastewater Financial Plans
The complex logistics of establishing a fair rate structure for all Ventura water users was at the heart of a meeting of the nine-member Water and Wastewater Citizen Rate Advisory Committee on November 16
The focus of much of the meeting, Ventura Water’s financial consultant, Sudhir Pardiwala of Raftelis Financial Consultants, presented a long-term financial plan for the water and wastewater utilities that will be the basis of Ventura Water’s Cost of Service and Rate Design Study. Raftelis, an industry leader in utility rates, is guiding the Committee and Ventura Water staff to develop a rate system that is fair to all users, from the apartment dweller to the business owner.
“The cost structure must be equitable and generate sufficient revenue to support our operations, debt obligations and capital replacement program,” said Shana Epstein, General Manager of Ventura Water.
For all aspects of providing drinking water and wastewater treatment to Ventura’s 32,000+ homes and its water-dependent businesses, it all comes down to crunching the numbers, reviewing the operations and capital budgets, and timing when to issue bonds (take out loans) to pay for capital renewal projects.
“We’re looking at the financial policies, reserve policies, and when and how much debt we issue to pay for capital projects,” Epstein said. “Much of our infrastructure is aging and it is more cost-effective to replace pipes and infrastructure on schedule than be faced with higher costs to fix unplanned failures.”
All customers are encouraged to attend the next Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 14
. For more information on the Committee’s progress, visit www.cityofventura.net/water/resources
Did you know? If you live in Ventura, your water is local - 100 percent of it. Ventura Water’s only sources are Lake Casitas, the Ventura River and local groundwater wells.