Water and what Oxnard needs to consider: an Oxnard resident’s concerns

oxnard

Looking seaward at Oxnard, CA

By Steve Nash

Editor’s note: This was presented at the 5/6/14 Oxnard City Council meeting by Mr. Steve Nash, a Citizen-activist. Oxnard, CA is very concerned about the severe drought conditions and an already long-term groundwater deficit which preceded it.

  • The groundwater basin underlying the Oxnard plain is on the verge of an irreversible collapse.
  • Seawater is surging into the basin because overdraft has created a landward gradient.
  • It takes 40 gallons of fresh water recharge to push back 1 gallon of intruded seawater. Therefore, it can be assumed that once seawater has infiltrated the aquifer, we will never have the freshwater resources available to reverse the contamination.
  • The water agencies are incapable of addressing the issues of seawater intrusion, overdraft, ground subsidence, endangered species protection and rising levels of chlorides, nitrates, sulfates and dissolved solids in groundwater without incurring unprecedented levels of indebtedness.
  • Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency, United Water Conservation District and Calleguas Municipal Water District are extremely reluctant to make agricultural and ranching interests pay for “new” water such as Oxnard’s Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF).

Therefore, the City needs to immediately convene a citizen commission to address water issues. This commission should be composed of Oxnard residents and City Council members only. Staff should only provide information, not direction. The commission should make decisive and clear recommendations to the City Council on the following issues.

  • The 2030 General Plan (GP) is an insufficient planning document in light of the on-going drought, restrictions on delivery of State water, groundwater quality and overdraft issues. What amendments are needed so the GP’s goals and policies reflect the current reality?
  • Who pays for the water infrastructure beyond City limits?
  • How can the City make water rate increases fair and 218-compliant so that residents understand and accept the fee structure?
  • Should the per unit cost of water be different for different users?
  • How much are the residents of Oxnard willing to pay to support agriculture on the Oxnard plain?
  • Should the AWPF water be sold to the highest bidder or should it stay in Oxnard?
  • Should the City contractually commit the AWPF water to outside interests if the City is unable to utilize the GMA credits it received for delivering that water?
  • If the groundwater basin is adjudicated, should the City allow itself to be “handcuffed” by these contractual obligations to deliver AWPF water to non-Oxnard customers?
  • Should the AWPF water be immediately distributed or “banked” by injecting it into an ASR well?
  • Should the City implement a “water neutral” ordinance?
  • Should the City change landscaping conditions for new development to reflect “water-wise” and “ocean-friendly” standards?
  • Should the City capture, treat and store storm-water run-off?
  • Should the City begin requiring the water softener companies to remove the chlorides from their discharges into the City’s wastewater system?
  • Should the City ban salt-based and other ion-exchange water softeners?
  • Should “grey water” systems be required for all new development?
  • Should the City incentivize water conservation?
  • Should the City ban fracking, acidizing, steam injection and other enhanced extraction technologies within City limits because of potential, catastrophic effects on the aquifer?
  • Should the City demand the County revoke Anterra’s operating permit to dispose of drilling muds, waste brine with TENORM and other waste fluids into an injection well on the Oxnard plain?

Source: Steve Nash

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Upon our further inquiry, Mr Nash provided the following info:

George, thanks for your interest. The time is long past for the City to address these issues I discussed last night.

TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced, Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material): “Geologists have recognized the presence of NORM since the early 1930s and use it as a method for finding deposits. Much of the petroleum in the earth’s crust was created at the site of ancients seas by the decay of sea life. As a result, petroleum deposits often occur in aquifers containing brine (salt water). Radionuclides, along with other minerals that are dissolved in the brine, precipitate (separate and settle) out forming various wastes at the surface:
  • mineral scales inside pipes
  • sludges
  • contaminated equipment or components such as mechanical seals which need to be occasionally removed and descaled by personnel who may not be aware of the danger and inadequately protected from ingesting the contaminated dust and particles
  • produced waters such as brine that is co-mingled with the hydrocarbons that have been pumped from the sub-surface deposits and must be separated from the extracted oil/gas.

Because the extraction process concentrates the naturally occurring radionuclides and exposes them to the surface environment and human contact, these wastes are classified as TENORM.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/

GMA: “The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency, established by the State Legislature in 1982, is charged with the preservation and management of groundwater resources within the areas or lands overlying the Fox Canyon aquifer for the common benefit of the public and all agricultural, domestic, and municipal and industrial users.” http://www.fcgma.org/about-fcgma/mission-statement

The GMA was tasked with addressing the intrusion of sea water into the aquifers underlying the Oxnard plain and bringing the basin into sustainable yield. It has done neither and, in fact, the problems are much worse now than when the Agency was created in 1982. 

218-compliant: “On November 5, 1996, the California electorate approved Proposition 218, the self-titled “Right to Vote on Taxes Act.” Proposition 218 protects taxpayers by limiting the methods by which local governments exact revenue from taxpayers without their consent. Proposition 218 was approved by a 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent vote. Proposition 218 expanded restrictions on local government revenue-raising by adding Article XIIIC and XIIID to the Constitution, which allow the voters to repeal or reduce taxes, assessments, fees, and charges through the initiative process; reiterates the requirement for voter approval for both “special taxes” and “general taxes,” and imposes procedural and substantive limitations on assessments of real property and on certain types of fees. Section 3 allows the voters to use the initiative process to reduce or repeal any local tax, assessment, fee or charge.”

http://www.cacities.org/UploadedFiles/LeagueInternet/c2/c2f1ce7c-2b14-45fe-9aaa-d3dd2e0ffecc.pdf

ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery): “States, communities and water suppliers are seeking ways to augment natural water sources as climate change and development pressures increase demand on these finite supplies. One approach to augmentation is storage of excess water in an aquifer using AR (Aquifer Recharge) or a specific type of AR well called an ASR well. Several methods of introducing water into an aquifer exist, and injection via wells is regulated by the EPA Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.” http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/aquiferrecharge.cfm

Source: Steve Nash

Steve Nash

Steve Nash

 

 

 

 

Steve Nash: Is a Planning Commissioner in the city of Oxnard.  He holds a B.A. in  Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara

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