Oxnard Holds Utility Rates Workshops

By Dan Pinedo

In anticipation of utilities rates increases the city of Oxnard has created a Utilities Rates Advisory Panel, (URAP). The panel is made up of 8 members representing the community
from three categories: Business/Industrial, Single Family Residential and Multi-Family Residential. There are 5 alternates.

Under the direction of Interim Utilities Director Daniel Rydberg P. E., the city of Oxnard has held two workshops. On August 26, 2015, the panel toured the aging wastewater plant located at 6001 Perkins Rd. The panelist saw first hand the condition of the aging plant. Clearly seen was vegetation growth on the side of one of the bio towers, indicating leakage and the need for repair.

Bio tower vegetation growth on side of wall.

Bio tower vegetation growth on side of wall.

The panel then met at the Advance Water Purification Facility a cross the street to receive a presentation on utilities background information, regulatory agencies and their function and how
they impact Oxnard’s facilities and their operation. Several maps illustrating the wastewater, stormwater drainage and the recycled water system were review. The presentation also included information on solid waste, which is the third component of a rate payers bill.

Presentation and discussion of water meter technology.

Presentation and discussion of water meter technology.

The panelists had the opportunity to ask question and participate in discussions. Prevailing questions in the discussions have been the cost of repairs to the aging plant and the construction of a brand new one. Of major concern is the impact these costs will have on Oxnard residents in the form of rate hikes.

Water pump at Water Campus.

Water pump at Water Campus.

The panel then broke into small groups to discuss and develop a vision and mission statement.

Workshop at AWP plant group discussion.

Workshop at AWP plant group discussion.

Meeting regulatory requirements is paramount. Prevailing words in the discussion included: Reliability, sustainability, flexibility, safety, security, cost effectiveness, transparency and equability.

The second workshop was held on September 2, 2015. The panelist toured the Water Campus at 251 S. Hayes. Along the tour, the panelists received information on the city’s sources of water.

Surface Water: Water from The State Water Project (SWP) originating from the Sacramento Delta and the Colorado River is conveyed through a system of reservoirs, aqueducts, pipelines and pump station. This water is received and treated at the Metropolitan Water Districts (MWD). It is pumped from there to the Calleguas Municipal Water District (CMWD) Lake Bard Water Treatment Plant. The city of Oxnard receives water from the CMWD Springville Reservoir through the Oxnard and Del Norte conduit.

Ground Water: Water from the United Water Conservation District (UWCD) originates from the Santa Clara River and is stored in Lake Piru by the Santa Felicia Dam. From there water is diverted to the El Rio Spreading Grounds where it is allowed to naturally percolate to recharge ground water aquifers. Water is then pumped and delivered to the city through the Oxnard-Port
Hueneme Pipeline.

Local Wells: The city owns 10 water wells that extract groundwater from the Oxnard Aquifer System. Members of the panel visited the sites of some of these pumps located on the Water Campus. The average capacity of these falls around 2500 GPM (Gallons Per Minute). The well pumps provide a combined 7,500 GPM and the 120 PSI pressure needed for the de-salter reverse
osmosis system located on the campus.

De-salter at Water Campus

De-salter at Water Campus

After the tour the panel met at the Oxnard Human Resources room for a presentation that centered on Utility Infrastructure Assessment, Utilities Operations And Maintenance Assessment, Utilities Financial Assessment and Utilities Rates Policy.

The presentation centered on several Master Plan Drivers such as Regulatory Requirements that must be met or exceeded and Repair/Rehabilitation to assure reliable performance and to extend useful life.

Several charts were use to illustrate the R&R prioritization. A portion of the presentation showed the staffing reduction since 2007 and Regulatory demands and infrastructure additions.

A historical graph on the wastewater fund showed that the revenues have remained consistent in the last 2 years at around $32 million yet operating expenses have gone up from $19 million to $24 million.

In one of the slides, Todd Housely, Environmental Resources and Materials Recycling Facility manager presented the 2015/2016 proposed budget expenses and revenues. In the collection programs, residential, commercial and industrial the expenses are estimated at close to $15.4 million. The materials recovery program shows $9.1 million and the waste processing $15.1 million for a total of over $39.7 million expenses. The revenue is estimated at and $42.9 million for a $3.2 million profit estimate.

The breakout discussion centered on rate policy. Panelists in general favor a (sinking fund reserve), do not support a high water usage penalty charge.

Some of the panelists have express concerns that the city has not yet presented cost dollar amounts to them, that without them they cannot develop rate policy recommendations.

The next workshop will be held at the Regional Recycling and Transfer Station at 111 Del Norte Blvd. on Wednesday, September 9, 2015. A tour of the facility at 5:00 PM will be followed by a workshop in the conference room at 6:00 PM. The meetings are open to the public, community members are encouraged to attend. The workshops are being recorded, check with city for airing dates and times. The full workshop presentations can be reviewed at the City Of Oxnard website, (Public Works, Utilities, Utilities Ratepayers Advisory Panel (URAP), Workshop Highlights.

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Dan Pinedo is a  Citizen Journalist residing in Oxnard

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