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.
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