RSVP TODAY, FREE Water Wise Gardens Class, Saturday, March 7


Reserve your seat today for the FREE Water Wise Gardens Class (“Water Wise Gardening and Lawn Alternatives with Lisa Burton), Saturday, March 7, 2015 from 10am to 11:30am at the City of Ventura Public Works Sanjon Maintenance Yard at 336 Sanjon Road, Ventura.waterwise-logo

Rethink the traditional American lawn when you learn about gorgeous turf alternatives and native, climate appropriate plants. In this class, you’ll also find out how to convert your spray irrigation to drip! RSVP:

The classes are presented by the City of Ventura, Ventura Water, Ewing and Green Thumb International/Ventura.  Check out the full schedule, click here.

Also visit,

Call For Water Conservation Continues

Water conservation efforts don’t get a break just because it’s wintertime!SavingWater

This month’s unseasonably warm temperatures all around Southern California mean more trouble for the drought, which is entering its fourth year. Despite the storms in December, January was pretty dry, and it’s usually the wettest month of the year. February is no better. Warm weather has also held down the California snowpack needed to feed streams and rivers, leading to new forecasts that dry conditions will persist this year. Click here to read a recent newspaper article about a pair of new drought forecasts from two federal agencies.

As you know, the city of Ventura last September declared a Stage 3 Water Emergency requiring Ventura Water customers to cut their water use by 20 percent. While water use levels have fallen, they haven’t fallen nearly enough.

Ventura Water customers reduced their water consumption by 7.05 percent in 2014 compared to 2013– nowhere near the mandatory 20 percent. See the full 2013/2014 water usage report here.

A better measure of how Ventura Water customers are doing on conservation is to compare this year’s water usage levels so far to those in 2013- before water conservation measures were requested and later, required. (Remember, the Ventura City Council first called for voluntary conservation in February 2014.)

Comparing January 2015 to the month of January 2013, water use declined by only 4.22 percent.

Let’s strive to make water conservation a daily, year-round habit for everyone! Here are some ways to make that happen in wintertime. More tips can he found at

  • Change your sprinkler schedule: reduce watering or turn off the sprinklers. Lawns and plants don’t need as much water in the winter. Invest in a weather-based “smart” controller or high efficiency sprinklers which reportedly reduce water use by 30 percent.
  • Find and fix leaks now. One way to find leaks is to read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • Replace older 3.5 gallons-per-flush toilets with newer 1.3 gpf models, which can save an average of 10 gallons per day.
  • Buy a rain barrel to collect and store rain water runoff. You can use this water for potted plants or to wash your car. Ventura Water and the city of Ventura offer residents a half-price discount for 60-gallon rain barrels. Get your vouchers by clicking here.VoucherFrom Ventura Water’s Pipeline, February 2015

Water Take: 1 Awards Ceremony is March 19, RSVP NOW for this FREE EVENT

Celebrate and learn about water and conservation with a night at the movies in Ventura!

The 2014 Water: Take 1 ( Awards Ceremony is from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at the Century 10 Downtown Movie Theater in Ventura. The event is free and tickets are not required to join the fun, but those interested in attending need to register ahead of time as seating is limited. We hope to see you there!

To register, please email Debra Martinez at She will add your name to the guest list and email back a confirmation for your attendance. If you have questions please email Debra or call (805) 652-4587.

You may also register by clicking here.Invite

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.

This year, 51 films were submitted. The ceremony will kick off with a screening of the nine finalist films followed by the exciting announcement of Water: Take 1 winners. Great prizes are offered to winners in various categories. Visit to view the films entered this year.

Questions? Email Learn more at the Water: Take 1 Facebook page:

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, February 2015

Sustainable Ventura News PODCAST: The New California Water Wise Yard



Get Water Wise with the NEW California Yard

If you haven’t already recognized the “new normal” California landscape, shifting from resource intensive, turf-centric landscapes to something truly “green,” such as an Ocean Friendly or Native Garden, there are a number of things  you can do to drought-proof your landscape and make it mores sustainable.  In this PODCAST, Sustainable Ventura News’ Maryann Ridini Spencer talks to City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Jill Sarick Santos about water wise gardens.SVNewslogosmall


Visit: for great lawn and garden tips and RSVP for FREE WATER WISE CLASSES!

Mark Your Calendars for the Upcoming FREE Water Wise Class Series

An Ocean Friendly Garden in Ventura

An Ocean Friendly Garden in Ventura

Mark your calendars and Save the Dates for the 2015 Water Wise Gardening Class series! Classes, presented by the City of Ventura, Ventura Water, Ewing and Green Thumb International/Ventura, begin Saturday, March 7, 2015, and always take place from 10:00am-11:30 am.waterwise-logo

Water wise classes, which are FREE and open to the public, will be held at the City of Ventura’s Sanjon Public Works Maintenance Yard (336 Sanjon Road) or at Green Thumb Nursery (1899 South Victoria Avenue).

This year’s array of exciting classes presented by esteemed industry professionals, promote efficient water use in landscapes, protection of our local water supply, reduction of green waste production, and information and appreciation of climate-appropriate, native plants. Attendees also have the opportunity to mix, mingle, network, and enjoy complimentary refreshments before and after all class presentations.

March 7: Water Wise Gardens (Sanjon) – Rethink the traditional American lawn when you learn about gorgeous turf alternatives and native, climate appropriate plants. In this class, you’ll also find out how to convert your spray irrigation to drip! RSVP:

April 11: Composting & Vegetable Gardening (Green Thumb) – Find out how to create a healthy biology for your lawn in order to encourage water CPR (conservation, permeability, retention). Discover how to create a potent compost tea and the many ways to encourage beneficial insects into your garden. RSVP:

May 2: Graywater & Rainwater Harvesting (Sanjon) – It’s so easy. Learn how to set up a laundry-to-landscape graywater system as well as how to install a rain garden (and rain barrel) to capture precious water. RSVP:

June 6: Control Your Controllers (Sanjon) – Irrigation Scheduling 101 – Everything you always wanted to know about how to set and operate your smart controller and keep up with the latest water compliance codes and restrictions. RSVP:

Space is limited, so RSVP for your place TODAY!


SAVE THE DATE – Water: Take1 Awards Ceremony, March 19

InviteThe 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 – and “following” WT1 on Twitter,

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 to view the films entered this year.

SIGN UP FOR Water:Take 1’s FREE “NewsReel” Newsletter and get notified about upcoming events and happenings!, CLICK.

2014 Watershed Hero Award Winner: Loma Vista Elementary School


In recognition and support of local environmental efforts, on Monday, December 15, 2014, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Hetimann, on behalf of the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Ventura Water, E.J. Harrison & Sons, and Agromin Premium Soil Products (Agromin), presented the 2014 Green School Award to Lincoln Elementary School, and the 2014 Watershed Hero Award to Loma Vista Elementary School.

The Watershed Hero Award was presented to Loma Vista Elementary for converting their school front entryway into a water wise Ocean Friendly Garden complete with a rainwater capture system, bioswales and drought tolerant California native plants.

“We’re so grateful for our ‘Watershed Hero Award,” said Marlene McMullen, Principal, Loma Vista Elementary School.  “Changing out the front area of our school with an Ocean Friendly Garden was truly a community effort.  We would also not have this gorgeous garden if it wasn’t for all the help and support of the many sponsors and supporters.

In early 2014, Loma Vista Elementary School was chosen as the recipients of Midtown Ventura Community Council’s 2014 Adopt-A-School Project.  The Midtown Ventura Community Council, a non-profit organization formed by citizens of Midtown Ventura in 1997 to help improve our community.

“We had an iconic 90-foot high diseased Monterey pine tree in our front yard that was dying,” said McMullen. “We really needed to remove it, but because the tree was the focal point of the school, we knew if it was removed, the children would miss it.  At the same time, the Midtown Ventura Community Council told us that we were chosen as their ‘Adopt-A-School Project for 2014.’  Everything just grew from there. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Working with the Council, it was decided that we’d do a comprehensive redesign and install a California Coastal Native and Ocean Friendly Garden that would be both water efficient in addition to being a special place that students and faculty could enjoy.”

Local landscape architect Brian Brodersen, designer of the OFG landscape for Will Rogers Elementary School, drew up plans for the Loma Vista redesign. Jesse Doty, Senior Project Manager for Clark Construction also volunteered his time, and contributed staff and equipment to help with the job.

Ojai Quarry’s Larry Mosler donated $2,000 worth of rock for the garden.  Surfrider Foundation and the City’s Ventura Water Department also donated staff and money for the purchase of native plants.  As part of the City’s Environmental Sustainability Division, every student has received a classroom presentation on waste reduction, water conservation and watershed pollution prevention.

Work on the garden began on May 17, 2014, and for seven full work days from May until September, students, parents, faculty, and community members removed turf, weeded, rototilled, graded the land, sheet mulched, placed rocks and boulders, hand-crafted benches, re-directed the rain downspout system into large bioswale gardens that slow the flow of water, allowing it to sink into the ground, and planted native plants.

“It really does take a village!” said McMullen.  “We had over 200 volunteers on the project,” said McMullen.  “In honor of everyone’s efforts and hard work, and to show our sincere appreciation for everything done on our school’s behalf, we plan to acknowledge all our donors and contributors with a special plaque that will be placed in the garden.”

Changing out their landscape for an Ocean Friendly Garden will allow for continued student education regarding sustainable gardens.  Additionally, the school anticipates a reduced water bill, as these gardens rely on rainwater, not potable drinking water.

“There’s a paradigm shift happening with how we need to think about our lawns and landscapes,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Jill Santos. “The California drought has helped accelerate this shift, and for a sustainable future, we all need to do our part. Emphasis is being placed on thinking green with water wise gardens, capturing rain water from our roofs in rain barrels, and appropriately placing bioswales in our landscapes to capture rain water, allowing it to flow and sink in to our landscapes vs. running off into the street where it picks up a variety of pollutants which get carried into our oceans and rivers.

Kudos to the school district, Midtown Council and to Loma Vista Elementary School, for providing this amazing opportunity for Ventura students and their families to learn about the importance of implementing these sustainable, water-saving initiatives.”

-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV

Filmmaker Focus: Will Allen, Never Without A Picture


“Living in Southern California, the impact of the drought is inescapable. We definitely can’t ignore what our environment is shouting as us to pay heed to!” exclaimed Will Allen, Founder and Creative Director, Never Without A Picture. “Doing what we can about how to be more sustainable, and how we can save water, is essential.”

It’s with this same passion about the environment that Allen approaches his work as a filmmaker, and what moves him when viewing young artist’s projects.

Will Allen

Never Without A Picture’s Will Allen

“Film is a powerful medium where you can make a statement, present an issue or a story, and bring ideas found in the script to visual life on the screen,” said Allen.  “With contests like ‘Water: Take 1’, it’s especially exciting for me to see how young filmmakers approach and present the serious issues, such as the water crisis, which directly impacts our society’s sustainability.”

Allen found his path to filmmaking after participating in a college production of Arthur Miller’s award-winning play, The Crucible, which dramatizes the Salem witch trials that took place in Massachusetts from 1692-1693.  During his research for the play, he discovered that even today, children in Angola, Africa, were being accused of being witches.  As a result, these ‘witch’ children continue to be incarcerated, tortured and even murdered.

“Looking for a way to bring the story of Angola’s witch children to film, as well as my work on a number of other projects, led me to found the media company, Never Without A Picture in 2012,” said Allen.

In several short years, Never Without A Picture has garnered an appreciative client base and develops and produces TV spots, short and long form documentaries and branded corporate videos for businesses and multi-national brands.

“We work primarily in Asia and Europe,” said Allen.  “Our specialty is finding the ‘story’ for our clients and assisting them in telling that story in a compelling, creative way to engage their audience.”

Allen enjoys working with “Water: Take 1,” and for the third consecutive year of the contest, his company offers production consultation services as one of the prizes in the “Best Student Film” winner category.

“For a short film, there are a few essential elements,” said Allen, offering advice to young filmmakers.  “Rather than just give ‘information’ filmmakers need to engage their audience with a story that has an arc — a beginning, middle and end — with characters their audience can relate to.”

“I’m impressed by many of the ‘Water: Take 1’ filmmakers storytelling and technical skill,” said Allen.  “There’s a lot of hard word and dedication that has gone into the making of some of these films and that does not go unnoticed.”

However, Allen also wishes to underscore that in the world of filmmaking and entertainment,  “it’s not just about hard work — but more importantly, working smart. “

“Time is valuable.  Young filmmakers need to observe and learn quickly how they should be spending their time.  Ask ‘will doing this get me where I want to go?’ ‘How long will it take if I do it this way vs. that way?’  Think creative and out of the box when considering a project and when taking a meeting. Also remember, just like with any business — you are the business, you are your own brand.  So make sure you are presenting the brand you want to be.”

Will serves as Creative Director and Business Strategist for his company.  His partners include Joseph Sousa, Head Writer and Creative Associate, Derek Deems, Lead Cinematographer, Kurt Rodeghiero, Writer and Director and Garrison Patrick, Post-Production and Animation Lead.


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.

RatesFrom Ventura Water’s January 2015 Pipeline