by Mike Anderson
What do citizens of Ventura need to know about their water? The first important item to note is that our water comes from Lake Casitas, Ventura River (when flowing) and groundwater aquifers. Currently, with all of the rain we have seen this winter Lake Casitas has not increased yet. It is still at 36% of capacity, said differently 64% of the lake is empty. The other source of water for Ventura is groundwater and we have seen the water table lower during this drought. Additionally, we have seen many wells go dry.
It is important to note that 75% of Ventura County receives imported water from places that get large amounts of water in the winter time. This includes, Camarillo, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. But here in West Ventura County we are the 25% that does not get any imported water from Northern California or the Colorado River.
Over the past 6 months there have been people working diligently to get imported water to West Ventura County. There is progress with this effort. Ventura Water and Casitas Municipal Water district are working closely with United and Calleguas to build a 9- Mile pipe that would connect East Ventura County with West Ventura County. This pipe would allow for up to 20,000 Acre Feet of water per year to flow into West Ventura County. This is an idea that was looked at in the early 90’s but it was passed on because the idea at that time was to build a much larger and very expensive pipe to Lake Castaic. It is unequivocally the right move for us to get this pipe in the ground as soon as possible.
Over 53 years ago Ventura County agreed to have a 20,000 allocation to the State Water Project. For many reasonable reasons we have never been able to accept this water that we pay for each year in the City of Ventura. We have never built a pipe to accept the water and frankly we have never really needed to build the pipe. With Lake Casitas and reliable groundwater we have always been in better shape than the rest of California, although over the next period of years it looks like the rest of the state will be in better shape than we are.
It is certainly an appropriate time to build a pipe and accept our water that we have paid into for so long. It will take as little as 3 years to have the pipe in place. The term that water agencies use is to have a “Diversified Water Portfolio”. They want to have multiple sources of water that will allow for a reliable supply of water during difficult periods of demand. By getting our imported water we will be bolstering up our Water Portfolio in West Ventura County. We are seeing good leadership and collaboration among water agencies to make this pipe happen.