Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Ventura Water looking for new sources of drinking water?
The City of Ventura relies entirely on local water supplies: the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater basins. In times of minimal rainfall and drought, water levels drop and these supplies become limited. Ventura, like other water providers throughout California, is looking for safe and sustainable ways to meet long-term water supply demands. Supplementing water supply with potable reuse is a proven, drought-resistant locally developed and reliable water supply. The City currently provides recycled water from the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility to two golf courses and landscape irrigation in the Harbor and Olivas Drive areas. Adding water purification technologies at the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility will extend Ventura's use of this local water source.
Isn't all water reused?
Yes, the water we use today has been used over and over again. Water reuse happens daily on rivers, streams, and all other bodies of water. If you live in a community downstream of another, chances are you are reusing its water. This phenomenon has been called “de facto” or unacknowledged potable reuse.
Can conservation meet our needs without this source of supply?
Water conservation is always the first step in preserving the water supply. The City has been actively encouraging water conservation, having adopted a 20% reduction goal. We offer free surveys and conservation fixtures, and we are working to educate the community on ways to reduce water waste and limit usage. We do this through providing free water wise classes and mobilizing an employee outreach team that educates/participates in community events. However, despite our best efforts, water conservation cannot meet all of our water demands.
What is wastewater and where does it go in Ventura?
Wastewater is water that has been previously used by a municipality that has suffered a loss of quality as a result of use. In homes, water is commonly used for washing our food, dishes, clothes and bodies, and for toilet flushing. The used water that goes down the drain or is flushed down the toilet is called wastewater. Because a considerable amount of water is used to carry away only a quite small quantity of waste, wastewater is mostly water. In Ventura, wastewater flows through the collection system (pipes) to the Ventura Wastewater Reclamation Facility near the Harbor where it is highly treated to a level almost equivalent to drinking water standards, suitable for use in irrigation. A small portion of the recycled water is used on local golf courses and landscaping and the rest is discharged to the Santa Clara River Estuary.
So how can we reuse more water to help Ventura's supply?
Ventura Water has been investigating options for additional water reuse for many years. The findings of these studies have shown that potable reuse has the largest benefit for the City. Other options evaluated include providing highly treated water to local agriculture or to recharge basins, but these options do not directly expand Ventura's water supply.
What does “potable” mean, and what is potable reuse?
Potable water is drinking water. Potable reuse refers to reused water you can drink after it passes through purification technologies. The water is then purified sufficiently to meet or exceed federal and state drinking water standards and can be used for human consumption. After it is purified, the reused water blends with other supplies and is held in a man-made or natural storage location before being delivered to a pipeline for use. Potable reuse storage is important for monitoring water quality for meeting drinking water standards. The water is continuously monitored before and after treatment. Safeguards are built into the process to protect public health.
What is water purification?
Water purification produces high-quality drinking water using the most advanced treatment processes available. Though technologies can vary, many systems use water purification that includes three processes: microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light/advanced oxidation. Ventura Water is also investigating the use of pasteurization as an additional purification step as part of the VenturaWaterPure Demonstration Facility. Combined, these purification processes remove salts, bacteria, viruses and micro-constituents like pharmaceuticals and personal care products to produce water quality that is equal to or better than existing drinking water sources.
Where is water purification being used or explored?
The multi-barrier water purification process has already been proven to protect public health; the 3-step water purification process has been successfully used at the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System since 2008 and before that at Water Factory 21. Orange County now produces 70 million gallons of purified water per day and is in the process of expanding production to 100 million gallons per day. Other locations with long term water purification programs include Singapore; Perth, Australia; Fairfax County, Virginia; El Paso, Texas; Scottsdale, Arizona; Windhoek, Namibia; Wulpen, Belgium; Gwinnett County, Georgia; West Basin Municipal Water District, El Segundo, CA; Aurora, Colorado; and others. Many places are exploring the use of advanced water purification to determine if it fits their local needs.
What are the benefits using purified water for drinking in Ventura?
The benefits of using purified water are many and include:
- A locally controlled, reliable supply of high-quality water that is drought resistant
- Sufficient water supplies to support economic vitality
- High-quality water to supplement local supplies
- Reduction of the amount of wastewater discharged to water ways (note: purified water is treated to a much higher standard than would be discharged to local water ways where such high quality water would injure fish and wildlife)
- Seawater intrusion protection
- A more diversified water supply
- A lower cost source of water than imported water
- A sustainable source of supply
- Reduced impact to groundwater basins and natural waterways
Why not just build a desalination plant and purify sea water?
Ocean or seawater desalination is an option. However, creating pure water from saltwater comes at a price, and the biggest cost is in terms of energy. It requires significant energy to remove the salt from the ocean water, much more than required to purify for potable reuse. While potable reuse is anticipated to cost less than $1,600 to produce an acre-foot of water, desalination can easily cost in excess of $2,500 to $3,000 an acre-foot, depending on the ultimate size of the full-scale treatment plant.
Who regulates recycled water? What laws and regulations have to be met?
In California, the permits for the use of recycled water are granted by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and its nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB). In July of 2014 the regulatory authority was moved from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to the SWRCB, which now reviews and establishes water recycling criteria and regulations. These regulations are among the most stringent in the world. The permits incorporate conditions for the safe use of recycled water. Potable reuse is regulated to the same rigorous state and federal standards required for all drinking water.