VENTURA : Vote Expected on Importing Water

Ventura City Manager Jon Baker plans to set the stage for the first vote on importing state water since the city's new slow-growth council was voted into office last November.

Baker said he will place a proposal by Councilman Jim Monahan on next week's City Council agenda to import state-owned water from Lake Piru by ferrying it down the Santa Clara River.

Baker predicted that the state water vote would make next Monday's meeting one of the longest, best attended and most hotly debated sessions in recent memory.

Ventura has paid $7.3 million for its rights to 10,000 acre-feet per year of state-owned water since 1964 but has never retrieved its allotment.

One acre-foot of water typically serves the needs of a family of four for one year.

Monahan, a state water proponent who is often the lone dissenter on the council, asked Baker to schedule a vote on requesting the state water allocation.

Lake Piru is connected to the state water project.

The United Water District, which serves mostly agricultural users in the Ojai Valley, started importing its 5,000-acre-feet allocation down the river this year.

Ventura has until Oct. 1 to apply for its share, but the council decided earlier this month to let the deadline pass. Most of the water would percolate into underground aquifers before reaching the city, officials said.

Monahan charged that his colleagues were dragging their feet in solving the city's water shortage, which led to rationing measures in April.

"We won't get any water unless we stick our hat out in the rain," he said.

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