New 13-Member Water Task Force to Respond to Drought Issues

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Dear Valued Customer,

Last Monday night, the City Council approved a 13-member Water Task Force to represent the community as Ventura Water develops and implements a range of actions to respond to the growing drought. The dry and hot weather is not helping our water situation, and as many of you are aware, the state recently mandated new requirements targeting water waste.

The City of Ventura has a Water Waste Ordinance on the books that was adopted during the 1990s drought. The state regulations and our ordinance include the same prohibitions:

  • Watering of outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures. (Don’t let your sprinklers run so long that the water runs off the grass onto the pavement and don’t let your sprinklers water the pavement.)
  • Using a hose to wash an automobile, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle. (By the way, a professional car wash is a better choice, environmentally speaking. A commercial car wash uses only 45 gallons per car and typically recycles the water. Washing at home can use three times the amount of water and the dirt and grime washed off your car can pollute our ocean and beaches.)
  • The application of water to any hard surface, including, but not limited to, driveways, sidewalks and asphalt. (Use a broom, not the hose to clean hard surfaces. There are some exceptions for health and safety, such as street sweeping.)
  • Using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated.

Ventura’s ordinance has a few more prohibitions that you should be aware of:

  • Any leaks should be repaired within 48 hours after being discovered.
  • Restaurants should serve water only if requested by the customer. (It takes three glasses of water to provide one glass of drinking water: one to make the ice, one to fill the glass and one to wash the glass.)

All urban water suppliers across California, like Ventura Water, will be enforcing these standards to prevent water from being knowingly wasted. Ventura’s ordinance does not have a $500 fine as a penalty but we will be rolling out a program to educate and enforce water waste prohibitions, along with other efforts to motivate our customers to save water.

These are likely to include incentive programs, drought rates and/or surcharges, as well as community outdoor watering schedules, which will be the purview of the Water Task Force, whose first public meeting will hopefully be in August.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to attend our Drought Informational Meeting on Wednesday, July 30 at 6 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at City Hall. We thought that a meeting would be the best way to update customers about what’s happening, help explain what all of this looks like down the road, and to answer questions.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to save water during these dry times. For more information, visit us at www.venturawater.net.

Sincerely,

Shanasignobkgrnd440bee29e37a

 

 

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, July 2014

READ MORE about the Water Task Force at CityofVentura.net

GM’s monthly column – June 2014

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 Dear Valued Customer,

As the water shortage continues to dominate the news, I would like to take this opportunity to explain about a little known agency that has an impact on our local water supplies – Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (FCGMA).  What is this organization and why should you care about it?  This organization acts as the water master to the Oxnard Plain Groundwater Basin, where the city extracts the highest quality groundwater serving Ventura Water’s customers.  FCGMA was created by the state in 1982 to manage local groundwater resources in order to reduce overdraft of the Oxnard Plain Basin and stop seawater intrusion.  In this role, FCGMA allocates to agribusiness landowners and cities how much water they may extract from the basins they oversee.  In addition, FCGMA established a conservation credits program so that pumpers that used less water than their allocation could “bank” the unused water and accumulate “credits.”  Over time, the city used less water within the Oxnard Plain Groundwater Basin and built conservation credits for use when other water resources, such as the Ventura River, were low.

Unfortunately, due to these extraordinary dry years and the lack of accounting for water inflow and outflow in the basins, the FCGMA approved an emergency ordinance in April that restricts extraction from the groundwater basin and suspends the use of conservation credits.   Our allocation was also reduced by 6 percent.

This action is just another reason why Ventura will continue its call for increased conservation this summer and into the fall.  Meanwhile, the city is actively working with other stakeholders of FCGMA to resolve the issues that led to the FCGMA approving this emergency ordinance.  The goal is for the groundwater basins to be a resource when surface water resources are limited.

The agency takes policy direction from a five-member board whose members are appointed from other elected bodies. Lynn Maulhardt is the chairman of the FCGMA board and was appointed by the United Water Conservation District’s board. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett is the board member representing the county. Ventura Councilmember Neal Andrews serves as an alternate for the one board member who represents cities. The two other members represent the agricultural community and small water districts. All of the FCGMA board meetings are open to the public and I encourage you to attend these meetings if you have an interest in water policy.

Sincerely,

Shana Epstein,
Vent
ura Water General Manager

From Ventura Water’s June 2014 Pipeline

Letter From Ventura Water’s GM

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Dear Valued Customer,

In greeting the arrival of 2014, we are facing a year that may be the driest in recorded history. Our local water sources primarily rely on the rainy season for replenishment. The Ventura River has not seen a normal winter for three years now, which means it has diminished as a reliable supply and Ventura is now dependent upon Lake Casitas and groundwater. Without the City’s full water supply portfolio, it is time to ask all customers to pitch in and use at least 10 percent less water.

For some customers that will be as easy as dropping one day of outdoor watering. For others, it may be more difficult if they have been efficient consumers all along. Bottom line, we’ll need everyone’s help to save water now to keep Lake Casitas levels from going lower, faster.

An average Ventura residential household uses approximately 21 hundred cubic feet (hcf) or 15,708 gallons every two months. A 10 percent reduction equals 1,570 gallons bi-monthly or 785 gallons per month. Many customers are already pledging their support and sharing how they will save water. Some of those tips will be offered in the coming months but here are the top suggestions to get started:

  • Check for leaks indoors and outdoors. One leaking toilet can waste between 300 to 60,000 gallons per month and even a slow drip from a faucet can use 450 gallons per month. There are many variables to how much water can be wasted due to leaks in irrigation systems, but it is possible to lose 225 gallons in a 15 minute watering cycle from a leak close to a sprinkler head.
  • Review your water consumption history and use the Home Water Works Water Calculator to analyze your water use and receive practical information to help reduce use.
  • Visit cityofventura.net/water/efficiency for more ways to save water.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember to Save Our Water. Thank you for being our partner.

Sincerely,

ShanaSignatureblue_bkgrnd

Shana Epstein, Ventura Water General Manager

From Ventura Water’s Pipeline, Vol. 4, No. 1, February 2014

GM’s Monthly Column

 

 

 

 

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PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS November 18, 2013 MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED!

Dear Valued Customer,

On November 18, 2013, our staff is bringing forward to the Ventura City Council a proposed Water Rights Dedication and In Lieu Fee Ordinance as a solution to encouraging development as well as ensuring that future water sources are available for growth.

If approved by the City Council as proposed, the ordinance – in the simplest terms – would require a new or intensified development project at the time of entitlement to sign over water rights to the City to offset the project’s water demand. If the project does not have water rights, the ordinance requires payment of a one-time in lieu fee, calculated based on the project’s estimated water demands, to be used to develop new water supplies. This recommendation has caused quite a stir because of questions such as:

  • How many fees will developers pay until they go somewhere else?
  • Why don’t you just demand that customers conserve more?
  • Will you really be able to procure or build new water supplies before the water is needed?
  • Who else has an ordinance like this one?
  • Who wants growth anyway?
  • What assurances does the community have that the assumptions to come up with these fees are accurate?
  • Aren’t you just doing this because there is a drought?
  • Why should developers pay for water that everyone will need?

This proposed solution to address long-term water supply planning and assist in the funding for increasing resources has many dimensions. Two public workshops, one in July and another a few weeks ago, were held to discuss the different perspectives as offered by community members and developers.  All of the questions have answers that can be found at cityofventura.net/water/supply. This webpage houses all the documents, including the draft administrative reports, consultant reports, commonly asked questions and answers, and the proposed ordinance.

The City Council will hear the proposed ordinance on November 18, 2013 at 6 p.m.  All interested customers are welcome to attend and share their views with the Council.

Sincerely,

Shanasignobkgrnd440bee29e37a

Shana Epstein,
Ventura Water General Manager

From the October 2013 Pipeline Newsletter

GM’s Monthly Column, June 2013

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Dear Customer:

As time goes by, conditions change and fluctuate, or as we like to say in the water industry … they ebb and flow. This concept is exactly what Ventura Water is trying to convey with its new Comprehensive Water Supply Report. The document concludes that our water supply should be estimated by a high and low range. The high supply level represents all water rights/water contracts and water facilities on line and operational to capacity. The low supply level represents what could happen if existing facilities are constrained, or if different allocations from water sources are put into play.

In addition, as water efficiency improves, Ventura Water needs a mechanism to measure how well the community is doing and for future development to reflect those same levels by establishing projections based on the most current customer consumption.

So, by annually monitoring the City’s water supply portfolio and projected growth, which impacts water demand, the City’s goal is to improve development planning as well as to note when and how to create new water supplies. “New” water supplies can be created in many ways, from conserving water to developing further the City’s reclaimed water resources.

Thank you for continuing to partner with Ventura Water to ensure that our community has a trusted life source for generations.

Sincerely,


ShanaSignatureblue_bkgrnd

Shana Epstein

Ventura Water General Manager

From the June 2013 issue of Pipeline

GM’s February 2013 Column: Mange the Water Supply, Use Less Water Outside

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Dear Valued Customer:

As we hope for more rain so that our rivers flow and our groundwater aquifers get replenished, I want to share with you another way to manage our water supply that doesn’t leave so much to chance.

We often talk about using less water as the best strategy to ensure more water for the future. So what is the most effective action you can take to make that happen? Use less water outside.

Here in Ventura, we estimate that 40 to 60 percent of household water use is consumed on the great outdoors. As a society, we have long valued a lawn for the kids to play on or to remind us of the gardens from England and the East Coast where the United States found its birth. But, does a lawn that requires more water than another other plant really make sense in an area that typically receives less than 16 inches of rain annually? Here are some common sense steps that we hope will help you rethink your lawn.

Step 1 – Monitor your irrigation-watering schedule. To remind you to adjust with the seasons, we have developed a “My Ventura Landscape Watering Guide” which we will publish monthly. Of course, there are lots of variables in deciding how much water you need. The most important thing is to know your plants and your irrigation system. In our experience, most landscapes are over-watered by as much as 50 percent.

Step 2 – Convert your lawn into a climate- appropriate garden that retains rainwater for nourishment. Ventura Water has been a long-standing partner with Surfriders’ Ocean Friendly Gardens program. Around town there are a growing number of gardens at homes and other public areas that are demonstrating how gardens can be an integral part of the watershed. In addition, we are working with local nurseries and irrigation providers to share the latest plant materials and technology to assist you in using less while still enjoying beautiful outdoor spaces. If you didn’t get a chance last month to see how some of your neighbors have already made the leap to using less to protect our water resources for the future, visit Save Our Water’s Real People, Real Savings.

Sincerely,

Shana Epstein
Ventura Water General Manager

From the Pipeline Newsletter, February 2013

GM’s Column, Pipeline, January 2013

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Dear Customer:

When you think of winter, what comes to mind? Enjoying hot chocolate … escaping to the snow for a great Southern California experience … or averaging your water usage to calculate your wastewater charge that will begin next July.

You are not alone if watching your water use is not high on your winter activity list! That’s not surprising since most customers use the least amount of water at this time of year because outdoor watering is not needed due to the cooler temps and rain.

So, this is a reminder that making wise consumption choices now will not only reduce your next bill, but can positively impact your wastewater charge for the entire next fiscal year. As part of the restructuring of Ventura Water’s residential rates last year, the calculation method for the wastewater usage changed from the lowest usage on one bill during winter months to averaging water usage during two billing periods. Since water used in your home is not metered when it enters the collection system for transportation to the Water Reclamation Facility for cleaning, indoor use must be estimated.

As stated earlier, outdoor watering is typically not needed during the winter in Ventura; water consumed during this time provides the best information for calculating approximate indoor water use per residential customer.

Put more simply, you need to know that your wastewater charge is set based on the previous average winter water use, begins each July, and will remain the same amount for the next year. If you would like more information of which billing periods are averaged for your cycle and the rates starting July 1, please visit cityofventura.net/water/rates.

The next time you are sipping hot chocolate, we hope that it reminds you to turn off your sprinklers, fix that leaking toilet, or insist your teenagers take shorter showers. (OK, we can dream, right?)

Sincerely,

Shana Epstein
Ventura Water General Manager

From the January 2013 Pipeline

The VALUE of Water

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Many people question water rates.  However, Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein in her Pipeline, March 2012 column discussing World Water Day, poses:

It’s important to challenge ourselves to consider the true value of healthy water systems that reliably deliver high-quality drinking water and cleanse our used water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is in stark contrast to other communities that are struggling for a gallon of clean water water when we measure our usage in units equal to 748 gallons.  To provide the value of water in disparity to what we pay for it, consider this.

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It costs you less than pennies per gallon for an invaluable resource provided by a dedicated team of 100 individuals who are your neighbors, family members, classmates and friends. Let’s celebrate as one community the power of a healthy water system on March 22, 2012.

Show Your Support: Drink Tap Water and Use Our Water Efficiently.

From Pipeline, March 2012

GM’s Monthly Column

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Shana’s Column in the November 2012 Pipeline 

Dear Customer,

Thanksgiving traditionally heralds the holiday shopping season – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So are you thinking of that perfect gift that someone won’t return, put in the back of the closet, or re-gift to a mutual acquaintance? Here are Ventura Water’s favorite gift suggestions:

5. Broom – Many of us prefer to wash down a driveway or patio because we just feel it will be cleaner, but Ventura Water encourages you to go out and get a quality broom or pressure wash broom that uses less water than a hose to get the job done. The person in your household who does this chore will now have a new device and enjoy the job.

4. Dry Shampoo – I was talking to a friend who bragged that she no longer needs to wash her hair more than two times a week because of “dry shampoo.” So what is dry shampoo? Many people use baby powder to take the “grit” out of your hair so it feels clean, but this is an actual special product. With dry shampoo, you can take shorter showers and save water.

3. Washer – For those families that have worn out the washing machine, use your dollars for a water-saving washing machine that will reduce your water bill for long-term savings. Look for ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. They meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Camera – You may be thinking: how can water be saved with a camera? In this issue, you’ll read about the winning films for the Water: Take 1 Short Film Contest. With a camera, you can create a film that communicates the value of water and how important it is to the vitality of Ventura, and enter it in next year’s contest. Give a camera and in the card, write watertake1.com to inspire the next winner.

1. Toilet – The top choice of a gift is something everyone will use every day. Purchase a WaterSense toilet, either ultra-low flush or dual flush, and the gift recipient will save water and money for years to come.

Finally, you may choose to support Giving Tuesday (launched on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) that encourages financial giving to charitable organizations. There are many organizations that collect donations to help those in desperate times pay their utility bills or communities in developing countries build healthy water systems.

Whether you use Ventura Water’s gift tips or not, we hope you and your family have a wonderful time preparing for the Holiday Season.

Sincerely,

Shana Epstein
Ventura Water General Manager