$209,000 Add-on to Water Hikes in Ventura? For plants or patrols?

Editorial

By Camille Harris

Should Ventura city staff be allowed to spend another $209,000 for additional water/code enforcement personnel and two new vehicles, when citizens already reduced their usage of water by 307,383,652 gallons this past year? The effort to save resources calls for everyone to unite as volunteers, not hire a few more public employees to drive around town in new cars paid for by the taxpayers. If we have money to spend, let’s put it directly into environmental products for the community that will actually save water.

The Big Stick Already Hit

Ventura’s first of four rate hikes is a huge financial pinch for citizens, and serves as the biggest stick to discourage water use. So why is Ventura’s staff recommending spending another $209,000 for additional personnel? Aren’t the high rates, which are going even higher, enough deterrent already? Aren’t we conscientious and caring citizens?

Using the water crisis to beef up bureaucracy and buy new cars irks the citizenry who have been struggling to put food on the table, find decent jobs and pay the higher water bills. It’s the old adage, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The World’s Best Educators Will Do It Better

If education is needed, our schools and teachers are best at getting the word out. Children are the greatest salespeople in the world. Simply tell the children the need and send them home with literature. We could even give them an inexpensive bucket to carry home. In our home, we save 1450 gallons a year, simply by placing a $2 bucket under the shower while the water warms up, then we save again when we pour the bucket of water on our plants. With 43,000 homes, you could get 62 million gallons conserved and 62 million re-used.

Neighboring Cities Offer Incentives That Save Water

Our neighbors in Goleta and Santa Barbara are using creative ideas to spend their tax dollars on incentives for the citizens. According to Goleta Water Company’s environmentalist in charge of water-saving programs, Ryan Drake and Madeline Ward, water specialist from Santa Barbara are doing the following:

1.Goleta’s Smart Landscape Program provided $70,000 in water saving plants to replace turf, saving 36,000,000 gallons of water. They are expanding it further this year. (Ocean friendly gardens, anyone?)
2.The Showerhead Distribution Program distributed 35,000 low flow shower-heads this year, saving 1200 gallons a year per person.
3. Santa Barbara lists areas where citizens can pick up free mulch produced by the city. The delivery cost is also covered ($40) if they need delivery.
4. Toilet rebate programs replaced 1623 toilets that saved 3600 gallons per person.
5. This year Goleta plans to roll out 1,000 more showerheads, 50 more high-efficiency low-flow toilets and 1,000 more faucet aerators.
6. Water audits are given to check for leaks, (Ventura does this upon request)
7. Replacement of faulty sprinkler heads is subsidized.
8. Some cities work with a company that replaces inefficient fixtures and allows homeowners to reimburse the cost with a small amount paid over time on their water bills.
9. Subsidize replacements of inefficient watering systems
10. Permits and inspections waived for water efficient replacements (such as toilets and showerheads)

Goleta is focusing conservation efforts on its Smart Landscape Rebate Program and a Water Savings Incentive Program to install water efficient equipment, crops and/or plants. Goleta plans to handle this job with the existing water staff.

According to Madeline Ward, water specialist for Santa Barbara, no permits are charged and no code enforcement inspections are necessary for changing to a low flow toilets. During the last drought, citizens were given a $150. rebate to change to a low flow toilet. They believe they are almost totally replaced now due to this program.

Santa Barbara has not had to inflict fines even though they can. If needed, they say they would simply put them on the water bill…not incur a big expense to taxpayers.

The lower cost of educating the unenlightened by using peer pressure, the schools and volunteers, is far better use of our tax dollars than more employees and vehicles to maintain and support. The recommendation by the water staff, under a cost-benefit analysis, would simply not pencil out.

The rising rates are sticks enough!

What can you do to help?

Let the council members know what you think! Participate!
Email them at council@cityofventura.net by Sunday night, or come to the meeting this Monday night, September 22, where they will decide whether or not to take the staff’s recommendation to spend more money on staffing and cars. 6 pm at 501 Poli St, second floor, Ventura, 93001

Silence is consent.

Camille Harris is a community activist in the City of Ventura

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