Oxnard: More water crisis response

By George Miller

Name Date Agenda Video
City Council Meeting 5/13/14 View Agenda View Event
Daniel Rydberg, Interim Water Dept. Director

Daniel Rydberg, Interim Water Dept. Director

At the May 13, 2014 Oxnard City Council meeting, further action on the water/drought crisis was discussed, with a preliminary assessment and course of action recommended. Daniel Rydberg, who is running the water Dept since Mr. Emmert left, cited major groundwater depletion problems and a need to reduce the groundwater depletion rate by 20%. Even before the current severe drought, Oxnard was greatly depleting it. Now, with the threat of imported water restrictions and less local watershed supplies, the situation is becoming critical. Phased restrictions begin going in effect July 1, 2014.

The groundwater depletion is made more serious by seawater intrusion accompanying it, since Oxnard is a  low-lying coastal city with geological conditions that are very susceptible to this. Planning Commissioner Steve Nash wrote in a recent CJ article that 40 gallons of fresh water would be needed to displace every gallon of seawater intrusion.

Since Oxnard now imports 40% of its water and draws 60% more from local sources, it would suggest that up to 12% of total water usage would either need to be replaced with other sources- either imported, reclaimed or  water usage lowered, or some combination of these.  Oxnard already called for a 20% reduction from residential, industrial, agricultural and governmental users.

There is no ratepayers’ mandate at this point, but it could follow if voluntary measures fail to effect sufficient reductions.

Summary slides of Mr. Rydberg’s presentation follow:

OXwater 001

 

OXwater 002

CJ asked the Council and staff the following questions and added new ones here: Would this require 12% water supply replacement via recycling, additional imports, conservation? What will be done about seawater intrusion? What recycling improvements can be made? What additional provisions can be made to catch runoff? If water is being “dumped” from processing now, what can be done  about that?  Where is it being dumped? What is the extent of reductions since reduction requests were made? What  can be done to make further reductions? Will mandatory cuts be ordered? If so how much, how can that be measured, how will quotas be set and enforced?  Is consultant  Mohammed Hasan’s “berm” approach for catching flood waters practical and should it be implemented and how?  What about golf courses and irrigation for lawns and other water-intensive plants? What about water-intensive crops?  How will rates be affected by all this?

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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