New Rates = New Pipes


On January 13, the Ventura Water Rate Advisory Committee presented its recommendations to the City Council. Following five public meetings, which included reviews of future operating and capital budgets and updates to other financial policies, the Committee endorsed a four-year water and wastewater rate plan. The proposed rates reflect a combined increase to the average residential water and wastewater customer of $9.68 bi-monthly (or $4.84 monthly) for the first year, proposed to be effective July 1, 2014. Rates would then increase incrementally at slightly higher amounts every July for the next three years.

If approved by our customers and the City Council, these rates will fund a moderate operational and maintenance program and an increasing capital improvement plan to replace aging pipelines and facilities. During the next four years, the new monies will replace three wells to help water supply and improve well field management operations.  With an average age of almost 50 years,16.5 miles of the 380 miles of drinking water pipes are scheduled to be replaced. Treatment facilities will also be updated at the Water Reclamation Facility, and 7.2 miles of the 300 miles of wastewater collection system pipes will be replaced.

Before the City Council conducts a public hearing on rate increases (tentatively scheduled for May), we will offer an extensive outreach program to explain why the rates are needed for the water and wastewater systems. Replacing our infrastructure at the right time and at the right price represents an investment in our local economy and will prevent costly emergency repairs and service disruptions. A notice detailing the rates and the reasons for them, as well as the date and time of the public hearing, will be mailed to all customers and property owners in March.

You are invited to read the 2014 Cost of Service Study, the basis of the rates, to understand the financial plan for Ventura’s Water and Wastewater Utilities. Complete information about the Rate Advisory Committee and its work is available at

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

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What YOU Should Know About Private Sewer Lateral Inspections


In January 2012, the City adopted new regulations to support the timely inspection, repair and replacement of private sewer laterals. A private sewer lateral is the pipe that connects a business or home’s plumbing system to the City’s wastewater collection main pipeline. The lateral is considered the “private” segment when it is located on private property and serves the purposes of an individual, privately owned building. The property owner is responsible for the entire pipe length, including the wye or saddle at the point of connection to the City’s mainline.

Ventura Water is responsible for the maintenance of the main pipelines that carry used water from homes and businesses. To protect public health and safety, these pipes are regularly inspected and repaired to maintain their integrity. A good maintenance practice is to have your private sewer lateral inspected every 3-5 years to catch problems early, which will prevent expensive repairs down the road. With thousands of private sewer laterals in the City, property owners are important partners in assuring that pipes are properly maintained to protect us all.

Effective February 3, 2014, three events will require property owners within the City to hire a licensed plumber to conduct a video inspection (closed circuit TV) of their private sewer lateral, at the property owner’s expense.

  1. If a sewage spill occurs on private property. An inspection will identify the causes of the spill and make sure the property owner takes corrective actions to prevent further problems.
  2. Upon receipt of a notification letter from Ventura Water indicating that problems, such as root intrusion or grease/rag buildup, have been identified. The letter will request an inspection by a licensed plumber to take corrective actions. It is in the property owner’s best interest to respond to prevent a damaging and costly overflow or backup.
  3. Prior to the close of a sale for any property. Property owners that are considering selling are strongly recommended to hire a licensed plumber to inspect the private sewer lateral early in the process. A property owner may choose the timing to submit the Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Report to the City, as long as the report is submitted before the close of escrow and the results of the inspection are disclosed to the buyer and all parties to the sale.  If the inspection reveals that corrective work is needed, the seller and buyer can agree on who will pay the cost and who will be responsible for making the repairs. Visit for all the details about how a property owner can meet this requirement.

In addition, commercial and common interest properties (apartments and condominums) are required to submit a Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Report to the City every 10 years, with the first report due before January 1, 2023. These properties will be required to inspect the length of pipeline from the last private connection to the City’s mainline and include the results in the report. (Sales of single units in common interest developments do not trigger change of ownership inspection requirements.)

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From Ventura Water Pipeline, Vo. 4, No. 1, February 2014

“Can the Grease” To Protect Our Pipes


During the upcoming holiday cooking season, we would like to remind our customers to be thankful for their hardworking pipes by remembering to Can the Grease.” While it may seem harmless to pour your used oil down the drain, dumping any amount of cooking oil into the sink can damage pipes and harm our environment. Grease clings to pipe walls in small particles that latch on to each other, leading to massive clogs over time – in your kitchen sink and our collection system pipelines.

Can the Grease by following these simple steps: can it, cool it, throw it away.

Here are some handy tips:

  • After cooling, pour or scrape all fats, oils and grease into a metal can or glass jar, and seal with a lid.
  • Throw away immediately or keep the container in the refrigerator until full and then dispose of the used oil in the trash.
  • Never pour fats, oils or grease down the drain. They build up over time.
  • Hot water DOES NOT dissolve fats, oils or grease. As soon as these liquids cool while in pipes or sewer systems, they will harden.
  • Disposing of fats, oils and grease properly will save thousands of dollars in repairs in the community.
  • Avoid using a garbage disposal. Place baskets or strainers in the sink to catch food scraps and place them in the trash.
  • Dish soap DOES NOT dissipate fats, oils or grease. They will later coagulate in pipes and sewer lines.
  • Wipe before washing. After pouring fats, oils or grease into a sealable container, wipe the cooking container with a paper towel to remove further grease residue.

Special Note for Turkey Frying Oil: Used cooking oil in a closed container is accepted year-round at the City’s free monthly Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events. It is recommended that you designate a container for the used oil before starting your turkey-fry, and carefully transfer the oil immediately after it has cooled. Seal the container immediately and schedule your appointment to drop it off at a HHW event as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.

This article is from Ventura Water’s Pipeline, November 2013

How wastewater pipes are cleaned and maintaining your home’s pipe health


In this segment of “Sustainable Ventura” (September 2013), Ventura Water Wastewater Collections Lead Worker Ralph Casillas explains how wastewater pipes are cleaned and how to properly maintain your home’s pipe health.
In the September 2013 Show, brought to you by Ventura Water, SustainableVentura.TV finds out what happens to the wastewater that leaves our homes and businsesses when it takes a tour of the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility and finds out how a wastewater pipe gets cleaned. The show also features an update on the 2011 Santa Clara River Estuary Settlement and visits with the students at the Caps-TV Digital Storytelling Program to find out about the films producing that they’ll be submitting to the Water: Take 1 Online Short Film Contest.

Sustainable Ventura, hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer and airs on Caps-TV VTV’s Channel 15, Thursdays at 8:30pm. It rebroadcasts Monday-Thursday and Saturdays at 9:00am, Sundays at 8:30pm and every other Wednesday at 8:30pm.

Watch Sustainable Ventura News on the NEWS pages at and in the Lifestyle Section

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Visit: SustainableVentura.TV

“Think at the Sink” for Happier Pipes

No FOGWe automatically turn on water faucets dozens of times each day. The water swirls and whoosh – it’s gone! But when was the last time you thought about what goes down the drain?

Since the invention of the garbage disposal (which claims to grind even the hard stuff such as small bones and fruit peels), people have turned the sink drain into a common destination for kitchen waste. People often throw or pour many substances down the drain without thinking of the consequences to pipes or the environment.

Putting trash down the kitchen sink (or any other drain in the house) can cause pipes to clog, burst or backup. This may eventually lead to expensive, hazardous sewage spills in your home, business, streets, rivers and ocean that also harm the environment. Here’s how to properly dispose of the most common things that should never go down the drain:

Ventura Water - Think At SinkFats, Oils and Grease (FOG) – FOG sticks to the interior surface of pipes, hardens over time, and may cause clogs, backups or sewage spills. FOG includes the obvious offenders such as cooking oils, meat juices and shortening, but salad dressings and sandwich spreads, dairy products, sauces and butter/margarine can also cause problems. Another bad idea is pouring hot water and detergent down the drain with grease. The grease only temporarily breaks up and will eventually cling to pipes as it cools. The best way to get rid of FOG is to let it cool/harden, mix it with other absorbent materials, place it in a bag or container, and then throw it in the trash. For liquid cooking oil, pour into a leak-proof container (plastic bottle with a secure top in which cooking oil came) and bring it to one of the City’s free Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Events held on the third Saturday of each month. Call 652-4525 Monday through Thursday to make an appointment for the next event.

Food – The best way to use food scrapes is to compost what you can and wipe or scrape the remnants into the trash. Use a drain screen in your sink to catch any remaining bits of food as you wash the dishes. Always use your garbage disposal sparingly.

 “The only thing that should go down the drain is what comes out of the faucet!”

Coffee grounds and eggshells – Should be put in the trash and never sent through the garbage disposal. These items also make great additions to garden compost.

Hair – Hair will catch and stick to other items and is very difficult to get out of piping once it gets in. Prevent hair from going into the pipes by using a fine drain screen to catch hair in your bathtub and shower and dispose of it in the trash.

Household hazardous materials – Such as motor oil, pesticides, paint and solvents should never be poured down the drain. These are highly toxic and will cause long-term environmental damage. Dispose of these items and many others at one of the City’s free Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Events by calling 652-4525 Monday through Thursday to make an appointment for the third Saturday of each month. For more details, visit and help keep our community safe and clean.

From Pipeline, August 2012