Moorpark Council hear presentation on drought

moorpark.logoby Debra Tash

Moorpark City Council Meeting February 19th 2014: Susan Mulligan, General Manager at Calleguas Mutual Water District, updated the Council on the drought.  Conditions haven’t much improved since her presentation to the Simi Valley Council in  January. Calleguas wholesales water to all of the County’s major cities with the exception of the city of Ventura.  The District receives very little water from the Colorado River, relying mostly on the State Water Project.  It competes with the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles (DWP) for supply.  With the Owens Valley stores running low Calleguas has received no water from them this year.  Mount Lassen and the Sierra Mountains are the main source for the State Water Project.

With the snow pack at six percent of normal Governor Brown ordered no deliveries from the State Water Project for our region, something that has never happened in the 60 year history of the Project.  The Governor is looking to fund shovel ready projects to help ease the effects of the drought.

Currently Metropolitan, which supplies Calleguas, is relying on Diamond Lake and groundwater storage in the Central Valley to give them a buffer.  They are asking for a 20% voluntary conservation program. One of the major problems is the need to fix in the Sacramento Delta.  During the last major rainy season the pipeline at the Delta was turned off because the Delta smelt were too close to the pumps.  The shutdown lasted three to four months and resulted in the loss of one million acre feet (a foot of water covering an acre of ground).  Ms. Mulligan said that the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is the best long term drought prevention plan the State has, restoring the environment while insuring the water supply to California’s cities and farms.

Metropolitan is increasing its Be Water Wise program. Consumers can get rebates by installing efficient sprinklers and plumbing. You can check out the program at: http://www.bewaterwise.com/rebates01.html  

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If the DWP switches to Colorado River water for Los Angeles our wells plus our storage (in ground and in Lake Bard) with what Metropolitan can allot us, will meet our needs for several years.  If Los Angeles’ DWP can’t or won’t tap into the Colorado then our backup will only serve us for one year.

The infusion wells along Grimes Canyon, which cost Calleguas $150,000,000 to build, holds 50,000 acre feet of water underground.  It was supposed to hold 300,000 acre feet.  Mulligan blames the shortfall on geology that was not foreseen before construction.  Presently the storage is used as a supplement to the District’s well water and Bard Lake (above Olson Road) when Metropolitan shuts down its pipelines for winter maintenance.  What’s stored below the infuson wells amounts to an one to six month supply at best.   If Calleguas pumps longer than that it will damage local farming.  This supply is not used for the Simi and Conejo Valleys.

Solar field at Moorpark Sewage Treatment Plant

Solar field at Moorpark Sewage Treatment Plant

Reddy Pakala, Director of Ventura County’s Water & Sanitation Department spoke next.  He explained that Moorpark receives its water from three sources, imported, local supplies and reclaimed.  District 1, which serves Moorpark, operates the sewage treatment plant along Highway 118/Los Angeles Ave.  They recently completed a solar array that has so far met 80% of the plant’s energy needs.  District 1 is now working on constructing a desalination plant which they hope to have completed before the brine-line reaches Moorpark.  See CJ article for information on the brine-line: https://citizensjournal.us/californias-water-crisis-hits-ventura-county/

Pakala also talked about the privately owned Rusty Canyon Golf Course on Happy Camp Road which use 400 acre feet per year.  They will be tapping into reclaimed water to maintain their courses. The Moorpark Country Club and their Home Owners Association is also looking into using the reclaimed water.  Currently there is one tank in the city where reclaimed water is stored.  The cost of the pipelines to bring it to these customers would be justified by the amount saved by not using imported supplies.

Moorpark uses a total of 12,000 acre feet per year.

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

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