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

Ventura

Following 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.

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, January 2015

Task Force Recommends Changes to Water Use Tiers and Rates

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

The 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.

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From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, January 2015

Applicants Sought for NEW City of Ventura Water Commission, Deadline to apply is February 23, 2015

01/14/2015

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2015
Contact: Shana Epstein, 805-652-4518
Lysa Urban, 805-677-3914

Applicants Sought for New City of Ventura Water Commission, deadline to apply is February 23

The 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, Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street, Ventura or online at Advisorywww.cityofventura.net/involved/advisory, and will be accepted through 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.

Mayor Cheryl Heitmann says, “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.

Currently, 13 members of the public are volunteering to serve on Ventura Water’s Water Shortage Task Force (learn more at http://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, wraps up its work with a final meeting on Wednesday, January 14 at 6 p.m.

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FREE “Braunch Party” Event, Saturday, Jan 10 at Midtown Cafe

braunchpartysat

FREE EVENT!

Braunch Party

Saturday, January 10, 2015

 11:00 am to 3:00pm

Midtown Cafe

2991 Loma Vista Road

Ventura

Stop by the Midtown Cafe for this FREE Fun Filled “Braunch Party” Event in support of a good cause — helping today’s youth beat cancer!

Visit the Environmental Sustainability and Ventura Water Booth

RSVP on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/events/1008564902490805/

Happy Holidays to Our Customers: Ventura Water Holiday Hours

Holidays

While Ventura Water will be operating with essential staff during the City’s winter shutdown, Customer Care will be available at (805) 667-6500 from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to assist customers. However, please note that Customer Care will be closed on Dec. 25 (Christmas), Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day). Normal operations will resume Jan. 5. The best of the season to you!

Customer Care
Winter Holiday Schedule

  • Dec. 24 – Open
  • Dec. 25 – Closed (Christmas)
  • Dec. 26 – Closed
  • Dec. 29 – Open
  • Dec. 30 – Open
  • Dec. 31 – Open
  • Jan. 1, 2015 – Closed (New Year’s Day)
  • Jan. 2, 2015 – Open

Water Shortage Task Force Looks at Rebate and Incentive Program, Learns About the State of City Parks

Water

The vital maintenance of Ventura’s parks and public green spaces through the drought kicked off the Water Shortage Task Force’s Nov. 19 meeting. The 13-member task force watched a presentation by Elena Brokaw, director of the Ventura Parks/Recreation and Community Partnerships Department, on the state of the city’s parklands and the efforts to keep them alive, if not flourishing, through the three-years-and-counting drought. Slides depicted some of the city’s sports, tourist and passive public areas, lush and green before the drought, but parched in recent months.

“We are a very, very active community,” Brokaw noted, “and keeping (our park visitors) safe through the drought is our No. 1 priority.”  Aesthetics, while considered a lower priority, is still important, she said. “Letting the grass die is something we do not want to do,” Brokaw said. She added, however, “If the drought continues, we may have to revisit this.”

The task force also discussed possible incentives for Ventura Water customers in light of the city’s mandatory 20 percent reduction in water use. In her presentation on a “Potential Rebate and Incentive Program,” city environmental specialist Jill Santos detailed a plan which would provide customer financial incentives to reduce outdoor water use, including rebates for irrigation efficiency devices as well as a turf replacement incentive program. Ventura is the only city in the tri-county region that does not offer any kind of incentive or rebate to encourage residents to participate in greater water efficiency measures.

Copies of both Brokaw’s and Santos’ presentations, as well as the complete task force meeting agenda, are available at www.cityofventura.net/water/taskforce

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, December 2014

2014 Green School and Watershed Hero Award Winners

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In celebration of America Recycles Day, and in an ongoing effort to support local environmental efforts, on Monday, December 15, 2015, at the start of the City Council meeting, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann presented the 2014 Green School Award to Lincoln Elementary School, and the 2014 Watershed Hero Award to Loma Vista Elementary School on behalf of the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Ventura Water, E.J. Harrison & Sons and Agromin Premium Soil Products.

For the past eight years, the Green School Award has been presented to a deserving Ventura school that has demonstrated exemplary efforts in helping to preserve the sustainability of our environment. This year, Lincoln Elementary School was chosen for their active recycling efforts, which include a thriving CRV/Beverage Recycling Collection program that raises funds for their school, and for their Food Waste Composting and Recycling Program that helps to keep waste and trash out of the landfill. Other eco-friendly programs at Lincoln include a garden food-producing program providing produce for the students to take home and continuing student /faculty environmental education efforts.

For the second year in a row, 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 roof rainwater capture system, bioswales and drought tolerant plants.

“Both Lincoln Elementary and Loma Vista Elementary show commitment to our city, community and school district by continuing to preserve and enhance Ventura’s beautiful and natural environment,” said Mayor Heitmann. “We’re extremely grateful to our award sponsors, E.J. Harrison & Sons and Agromin Premium Soil Products as well as Ventura Water for supplying the schools with cash prizes and the beautifully crafted glass awards.”

 

Sustainable Ventura News From the “Water: Take 1″ Leading By Example Reception

 

Watch the Sustainable Ventura News segment from the November 20, 2014 “Water: Take 1″ Leading By Example Reception at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.

Leading by example, the City of Ventura, as well as many local businesses, support and encourage our community’s sustainability through their environmental initiatives and sustainable practices. On November 20th, at a special cocktail reception at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Ventura Water is hosted a presentation highlighting local organizations and companies that have implemented sustainable water practices and policies, upgraded their private and public spaces with a focus on water conservation and otherwise demonstrated not only an acute awareness of the challenges facing our water supply but have taken bold steps toward finding a solution.

Visit:  WaterTake1.com , Ventura Water.org and VenturaWater.net

Schools, Businesses, Residents, and the City All “Lead by Example” in Ventura’s Effort to Conserve Water

LtoR: Ventura Water GM Shana Epstein, Ventura City Fire Chief David Endaya, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann

Ventura Water celebrated the community’s ongoing successful efforts to conserve water at its “Water: Take 1 Leading by Example” reception held on Nov. 20 at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel. About 125 community members watched a series of video presentations about the actions taken by Ventura’s fire and parks departments as well as by local schools, businesses and residents to conserve during California’s historic three-year drought.

Ventura City Fire Chief David Endaya said the department is taking measures to conserve, including reducing the amount of water used during training exercises as well as using dusters to clean off fire trucks instead of washing them. In addition, he noted, members of Firehouse No. 3 recently removed the front lawn and replaced it with drought-tolerant plants.
NewsReel
Elena Brokaw, director of the Ventura City Parks Department, said only playing fields are still being watered – for safety purposes. Non-playing fields are no longer being watered. “Brown is the new green,” she said. She also noted that it is fortunate that both City golf courses and the Marina Park area are watered with reclaimed water, which is why those landscapes are still green.

The Ventura Unified School District is actively involved in water conservation, board President Mary Haffner said following a video focusing on the ocean-friendly bioswale gardens recently installed on the Will Rogers and Loma Vista elementary school grounds. With their sloped sides and depressed areas filled by rocks, native vegetation, mulch and organic compost, the bioswales retain storm water and trap pollutants that otherwise would travel to the ocean. Students learn about water conservation, Haffner said, by having a living laboratory on their campuses.

Three local businesses – Lewis Engineering, Rincon Consultants and Westside Boards – were recognized for their energy and water conservation efforts. All have earned Green Business certification from the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division.

Steve Svete, vice president of Rincon Consultants, said the company has reduced its water consumption by 80 percent in recent years by replacing its 1950s kitchen and bathroom fixtures and by encouraging its 40 employees to save water.

Adam West, owner of Westside Boards, described the lengths he goes to create eco-friendly body boards, alternative surf craft and surf-inspired furniture. “We’re a little cog in all this, but we try to lead by example,” West said, adding, “I haven’t washed my car since June.”

Ed Wehan, a member of the Ventura Parks & Recreation Commission, shared his experience of replacing his lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping. “Every plant has its own personality,” Wehan said, adding that he enjoys watching the sparrows, hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies drawn to his native plants.

Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein ended the evening by encouraging everyone to vote for one of the 50 films focusing on water currently entered in Ventura Water’s 2014 Water: Take 1 online short film contest at www.watertake1.com.

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, December 2014