California’s water crisis hits Ventura County


Gov. Jerry Brown


By Debra Tash

On January 22, 2014 Governor Brown’s office released its Final State Water Action Plan, which details long term water priorities after the Governor declared a statewide drought emergency on January 17th.  

In its introduction Brown states: “Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic.  We can’t control it.  We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration.” 

Water has always been a problem in California.  Legal battles and outright donnybrooks over this resource are commonplace in our state.  A necessity of life, California water rights are more valuable, in some ways, than oil.  

So what about developing local supplies? The Governor’s report addresses this: “The administration will work with the legislature to encourage local governments to adopt or amend local ordinances that enhance local and regional water supply reliability and conservation, such as ordinances that establish minimum requirements for infiltration or injection of water into the groundwater table, detection and prevention of utility system leaks, landscaping measures, and indoor/outdoor water use efficiency standards.”  

CADWRThe California Department of Water Resources oversees much of the statewide water delivery infrastructure and coordination of local districts and wholesalers. The department was created after floods in 1955 caused major damage in the northern reaches of our state.  Come 1956 then Governor Goodwin Knight combined the Department of Public Works, Division of Water Resources, State Water Resources Board and the Water Project Authority.  The State Water Project is where cities in our region, along with additional supply from the Colorado River basin, receive their water.  Thousand Oaks relies on imports for 100% of its needs.  Others supplement their water from underground aquifers.

The Governor also urged the implementation of the Delta Plan using an expensive revamping of the water delivery infrastructure from the Sacramento River Delta.  Since a court order turned the tap off to protect the delta smelt, a tiny bait fish, the Central Valley, where there is some of the most fertile ground in the country, has been turned into a modern day “dust bowl”.  From the report: “The administration directs all of its relevant agencies to fully participate in the Implementation Committee established by the Delta Stewardship Council and to work with the Delta Science Program, the Interagency Ecological Program, and others to implement the Delta Science Plan to enhance water and natural resource policy and management decision.”  The plan will cost billions and is years off as it faces additional lawsuits filed by the environmental community.

In the meantime, we have to deal with finding water in a very dry state (see map below):


Tetra Tech map provided by Hasan Consultants, Ventura, CA

                      This map is prior to considering predicted effects from Climate Change.

The Governor’s Action Plan also supports the removal of four dams at the headwaters of the Klamath River.  The dams not only provide clean energy, something the Governor supports, but are also part of the water delivery system.  To remove the dams to restore salmon habitat will further diminish supply.


The JC Boyle Dam is one of four on the Klamath River slated for removal- perplexing in an era of water shortages. Photo: Amelia Templeton

So developing regional water independence is looking better all the time.


Diamond Lake, near Hemet, CA

Calleguas has also been developing a brine-line that would be used in the treatment of brackish local underground water, which presently is unusable. Calleguas took comments for the project as far back as 2000.  The first sections of the brine-line have been built to Camarillo, including the outflow at Port Hueneme.  Local water will be extracted from the ground, treated through reverse osmosis and brought up to standards for agricultural and urban uses.  The brine-line will then carry the by-product, heavy salts, to the ocean.  

Reverse Osmosis is an expensive way to create potable water.  It requires a great deal of energy to drive the brackish water through a membrane to filter out the heavy salts.

Also being implemented in Oxnard is the GREAT program, (Ground water Recovery Enhancement And Treatment) as written about in a Citizens Journal article

GreatSummaryPerhaps our best hope is building a better mousetrap.

HasanLogoMohammed Hasan of Hasan Consultants , is a private practice civil and environmental engineer.  His company has been doing business in this county for 30 years.  Mr. Hasan has proposed what he believes is a cost effective means for supplying Ventura County with all its water needs.  We use approximately one million acre feet of water per year countywide. An acre foot is one foot in depth of water over an acre of ground.

Hasan proposed the placement of temporary dams in fields around the Santa Clara River basin during major rain events.  The dams, either made of plastic or an inflatable material, would be easily removed after the water has been trapped and then diverted.  They would not disrupt fish migration and therefore be environmentally sound.  According to the local Farm Bureau’s website: “For much of the year, the majority of the water flowing in the Santa Clara River consists of highly treated discharges from wastewater treatment plants upstream in Los Angeles County. In recent years, thanks to rapid growth in the population of the Santa Clarita Valley, the water released by those treatment plants has become laden with chlorides and other salts. (read CJ article by John Krist of Farm bureau).

Chart prepared by Hasan Consultants, Ventura, CA, from third party data.

Chart prepared by Hasan Consultants, Ventura, CA, from third party data.

However rainwater is not storm water, which is polluted by runoffs from streets. Nor is it contaminated with salts from wastewater and other discharges. 

Mr. Hasan (along with his associate, Mark Capron) presented his idea for self-sufficiency to the Farm Bureau, County of Ventura Public Works and the United Water Conservation District, but so far has no takers.  A representative from the City of Ventura’s Water Department recently said water will be: “Toilet to tap,” referring to wastewater treatment and the use of this tertiary water for drinking. However there is a problem using tertiary water this way: presence of medical waste. The prescription drugs we take are not removed in the wastewater treatment process.  It takes over a year for water traveling underground to remove the medications. Until then it is not fit to drink or even use on crops.

In a land where water is scarce, maybe thinking outside the box and trying innovative ideas to develop local supplies isn’t a bad way to go. Look for a feature article in the future on the Hasan Consultants’ proposal.


Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis

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2 Responses to California’s water crisis hits Ventura County

  1. reda seireg April 28, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    i have a novel proposal to help the state for water without degrading any system plus it is cheap


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