T.O. City Council Enacts Level 1 Water Restrictions!

by Kevin Harris

The Thousand Oaks City Council declared a Level 1 water shortage, asking residents to reduce water usage by 15 percent during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. 


With Sustainability Division Manager Dr. Helen Cox on hand to answer questions and sort through the proposed changes, the council was presented some of the regulations that came with each level of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP). Complicating matters was the fact that the WSCP currently has 3 water shortage levels, but beginning in 2022, those 3 levels become six levels. WSCP details are revised every 5 years. 

What it does mean for Thousand Oaks residents, however, is that by the time the Level 1 shortage goes into effect, it will, in fact, be a Level 2 shortage, and the voluntary 15 percent usage reduction will automatically shift to a “10-20 percent voluntary reduction in water use.”  

According the Dr. Cox, “The Water Shortage Contingency Plan changed this year as a result of new state requirements, for a 6-level system. The existing system has 3 levels of water shortages, with defined actions at each level.”

Cox is recommending the city declare a “Level 1” shortage under existing ordinance guidelines and a 15% reduction in water use, to go into effect January 1, 2022. These Level 1 guidelines will automatically transfer to Level 2 guidelines (with the new definitions) once they go into effect. “As a reminder, this will limit watering to two days per week, since we are now into the Winter season,” Dr. Cox said.

Dr. Helen Cox

To see the limitations and allowances of watering for each of the six new levels of the WSCP, you can go to the pdf at the following website: https://www.toaks.org/home/showpublisheddocument?id=36644. Then find the specific information beginning on page 4-3. At level 2, lawn watering will be limited to 2 days per week in winter, with exceptions for things like hand watering, playing field refurbishment, or irrigating a new landscape. 

The City Council Responds…

Council Member Kevin McNamee asked, “Are apartment complexes being asked to do conservation, and how do we help those that are under one meter for the entire complex vs individual apartments?” 

Cox said that for properties under one meter, “we’d be asking that account to reduce its usage by 15 percent. We would compare like properties… and use outreach accordingly.”

Council Member Al Adam opined, “As I read the staff report, it was interesting to see that 70 percent of our water use comes from outdoor use; irrigating lawns, gardens and swimming pools. So this will take some education on our part for the public.”

Adam also mentioned the Conejo Valley ground water Basin, by Los Robles Golf Course, which he said will eventually supply the Conejo Valley with “ten percent of its water use.” Ms. Cox indicated that the ground water basin might be a long term project, but that it is not something they are looking at anytime soon.   

Council Member Al Adam

 Al Adam wasn’t discouraged by Dr. Cox telling him that the local ground water was a long term project, however, and the council member continued discussing the benefits that the local water supply might offer. “Our city is 100 percent dependent on imported water from the Metropolitan Water District… It’s nice to have a little water independence, and that’s why we’re going back to our ground water,” he announced.  

Adam still wasn’t finished about the local water supply. “Before our imported water, this city ran on wells… but since then the ground water accumulated, and swelled up almost to the surface, and so there’s a particular well up by Los Robles Golf Course that we can tap into that will give us about 500 acre-feet of water per year. However, the water’s not potable and has to be desalted, and so we’re building a little desalter plant to do just that. That’ll give us a little water independence, and let us get maybe 10 percent of our water needs,” he concluded.

Someone in the room corrected him by saying it would amount to less than 10 percent, to which Adam called them a “party pooper.” Adam said that whatever the actual percentage turned out to be, it would help Thousand Oaks become water independent. 

Council Member McNamee then added that there is a plan being worked on to have that local ground water sent over to the Las Virgenes Water System’s reverse osmosis water plant for processing, doing away with the need for Thousand Oaks to build such a plant. “Water needs to be moved around because it’s becoming more and more scarce as time goes on,” McNamee said of the developing cooperative between agencies. 

Public Works Director Cliff Finley then approached the podium and spoke to the council to try to clear the air about some of the claims being made about the city’s local water supply. With a big smile and the waving hands of a person put on the spot unexpectedly, he said, “Al, we’re still looking at the treatment plant. Kevin, we’re looking at cooperating with our neighbors. We’re actually just looking for what’s best, and we don’t have the answers yet, which is why we haven’t come and told the council what we’re going to do (with the ground water basin). We’ll continue to work at it.” 

The resolution declaring the level 1 water supply shortage passed unanimously.  


Earlier during the meeting, members of the public had a chance to speak before the council. Each were allowed three minutes to speak, and by law, the city council can not directly respond to the topics or questions presented at the time. As it turned out, however, only one speaker  was present when the Mayor called for them to present. 

Michael Morrissette: Spoke via video call. Simi Valley resident and was representing Ali Alinejad, the artist who created the sculptures being displayed on a 30-day exhibit in front of the Civic Arts Plaza. “Ali created this sculpture art to represent the names of the 12 who were lost at the Borderline shooting, and I just wanted to come on his behalf, and on behalf of the Borderline family members.” He then thanked the City of Thousand Oaks for allowing the art exhibit to be shown. November 7 is the anniversary of that tragic event. 

NOTE: Several local residents chose to speak during the “Consent Calendar” section of the meeting. Their comments focused largely on commending the city council for adding battery backup and micro-grid infrastructure to the city’s power grid.

The next Thousand Oaks City Council meeting will be on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at 6:00 PM. The URL to watch the meetings back and to download a meeting agenda is https://toaks.primegov.com/public/portal.


Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists, and having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also an author and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks. 

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
William Hicks

Has there been any research from Newbury Park and Wildwood for groundwater sources?


Hey Billie, why not pull out your divining rod and find out for yourself?

Rugged individualism. MAGA.

William Hicks

Thanks for the suggestion “Patriot.”

BUT, there’s no need for a divining rod when there are known existing aquifers. For example, there are two dry ponds at the former Danielson Ranch in Newbury Park that were kept full while it was a working ranch by pumping known aquifers. The pumps still exist, although they’re in a deteriorated condition. Since both The State and National Park Service has control over the property, the ponds stay dry unless we have a particularly good winter rain. Certainly where we see standing water during wet weather conditions, like The Borchard Wetlands in Newbury Park, it is not unreasonable to expect a possible aquifer there.

BUT thanks again for bringing up the subject of past methods of finding water.


Hey Billie, why do you ask questions if you think you already know the answer? To show your a smart member of the Leftist Elite and you know more than us hard working REAL American Patriots? Yep, another libtard outed.

Well we don’t buy it. We know as much as you and more. Go back to your science class while the rest of us clean our guns.


Good catch. Anyone who refers to themselves as “William” sounds like a stuck up prick to me. But guess what his shit still stinks.

William Hicks

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the old fashioned name Vernon. OR, would you prefer to be called “Vern?” I’m comfortable with Bill or even Billie, Vern.

William Hicks


Again thanks for being part of the conversation. I failed to inform the readers that:
1) I’ve lived in Newbury Park for over 50 years and even I can come to reasonable conclusions.

2) My questions are rhetorical in nature and meant to question our city leaderships knowledge of the Conejo. Most of them are likely quite a bit younger than me, I expect. Some may even be young enough to be the age of my children.

Thanks for calling me Billie; I haven’t heard that referred to me since I was a child. It makes me feel younger than I am.

William Hicks

Hated from Newbury Parks there been any investigation with ground water generated from Newbury Park? In the past even the waterfalls in Dos Vientos still produced some water and there must be a groundwater source past the waterfalls.
Then there’s a runoff area in Wildwood and I can’t imagine that there isn’t a groundwater source there.

William Hicks

Please excuse this post. Unfortunately I posted it without first fully reading it and the auto correct made this sound ridiculous. I hope my additional comments made my intent more clearly.

You can call me William, Bill or Billie in the future if that pleases you. I take no offense to any of these monikers.