Ventura’s Protracted Stage 3 Water Emergency

By Charles Spraggins | Save Our Water Ventura

Three and a half years ago, in September 2014, the Ventura City Council declared a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency. To achieve a 20% water use reduction goal — rather than using an equitable rationing scheme — the city adopted a “punish the pocketbook scheme” of increased water prices. The pricing scheme succeeded. Ventura’s residents saved water and avoided much higher water bills.

The 3.5 year water emergency did not hinder the Ventura City Council from encouraging a building boom. While citizens saved water, Ventura continued to guarantee water for new housing. Now, with the drought getting worse, it seems the City will call for even more water savings from its residents. A move to Stage 4 is possible. The Ventura area has been identified as having the worst drought conditions in California.

Yep, the red area on the map covers Ventura.

Lake Casitas stands at just under 35% capacity. Additionally, in the Ventura River Watershed, the fire created ground surface conditions which are restricting the ability of the soil to absorb water. SO the miserly rains are not adding normal capacity to the underground aquifers.

Daniel Cormode, an expert on Ventura’s water conditions, recently stated  that: “The 10-year average baseline for water demand established by Ventura’s  2017 Comprehensive Water Resources Report is 17,111 acre-feet per year.  The estimated future water demand for 1,600 approved  and under construction residential developments and 1,200 residential developments in the planning stage is 1,148 acre-feet per year.  The total future water demand is expected to be 18,259 acre-feet per year. The current water supply under drought conditions is reported to be only 15,803 acre-feet per year resulting in a water supply shortage of 2,456 acre-feet per year.”

If Mr. Cormode is correct, the city is going to build 2,800 MORE residential units — for perhaps 10,000 more people — guaranteeing water that the city does not currently have. People were expecting the emergency would only last for a few years.  However, it has turned into a protracted, if not permanent, emergency. Ventura hopes new water projects will enhance future supply. Yet the projects won’t be completed for many years.

For more information contact the author at [email protected]

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