[LA FEATURE]Running Dry

LA FEATURE

Drought-stricken California communities face a third-consecutive dry year with no relief in sight

Ventura Implores Citizens to Reduce Water Usage by 10 Percent

Ventura residential households on average use approximately 15,708 gallons of water every two months, according to data released by the city

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In response to historically dry conditions, Ventura Water joins many communities across California and asks people to cut their water consumption by 10 percent during the drought. Patrick Healy reports from Ventura for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday Feb. 3, 2014.

    Amid historic dry conditions throughout drought-stricken California, residents in a Southern California beach town are being urged to cut back on their water use.

    The call for a voluntary reduction of ten per cent in the city of Ventura was supported unanimously Monday evening by the city council with a 6-0 vote

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    California Governor Jerry Brown is calling on Angelenos to cut water usage by 20 percent. Many wonder what this will mean for everyday life. Mekahlo Medina reports from Highland Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

    Ventura Water, the city's environmental services department, has joined a swath of groups in communities across the state, asking customers to voluntarily reduce water use by at least 10 percent.

    Ventura Water provides integrated water, wastewater and storm-water services to more than 110,000 customers; its drinking water sources are all local, according to Shana Epstein, General Manager. 

    "Ventura River water levels are very low and Lake Casitas, another of our primary water sources, is at 60 percent capacity," Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann said in a statement.  What's more, the city's ability to draw on groundwater is impeded by issues with some of the city's older wells.

    "It is a sensible step to reduce water use now by raising awareness of the need to conserve water," she said.

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    On average, a Ventura residential household uses approximately 15,708 gallons of water every two months, according to data released by the city; therefore, the 10 percent cutback calls for denizens to reduce usage by roughly 785 gallons per month.

    Ventura Water said citizens can determine how much water they use with the Home Water Works Water Calculator.

    The request comes on the heels of Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought state of emergency declaration, which was announced in mid-January.

    This is “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,” Brown said at a January news conference.

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    Heitmann’s statement harkened back to California’s drought years in the 1980s and ’90s, which saw mandatory conservation ordinances and crippling aridity ravage the state, especially in cities such as Ventura.

    With the city's primary sources of water dwindling, Ventura officials said they are working on a replacement well slated for summertime.

    Ventura’s third primary water supply is groundwater. A number of existing wells are undergoing maintenance, city officials said.

    Ventura Water said it plans to return to the City Council with an action plan in June if restrictions to complement the 10 percent cutback are necessary.

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    Officials from the Casitas Municipal Water District have alerted Ventura that if Lake Casitas’ levels drop to 50 percent, they will begin issuing water allocations.

    "In an allocation situation, we expect that the Council will declare a water shortage emergency and enact more stringent conservation measures," Epstein said.

    "Of course, anything that our customers can do to reduce their water use now will help Ventura's supplies in the long run," she said.

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